Demeaning as a Lifestyle: The Sadistic Aggressive

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the various “aggressive personalities” (see, for example:  Antisocial Personalities:  The Unbridled Aggressive Pattern and Powers to be Reckoned With:  The Channeled Aggressors).  And because they are the most seriously character disordered of all the various personality types, I’ve attempted in these posts not only to provide as much information as possible but also to encourage discussion and contribution from the readers, who undoubtedly have stories to tell that can benefit others.  In this week’s post, we’ll be discussing a relatively rare but still significantly problematic aggressive personality sub-type:  the sadistic aggressive.

The sadistic aggressive personality (see my categorization in Character Disturbance) is a most unique aggressive personality sub-type.  All of  the aggressive personalities hurt people.  That’s because in their relentless, thoughtless, and undisciplined pursuit of their self-serving agendas, they’re quite willing to run over those whom they perceive as standing in their way.  They’ll do whatever it takes to “win,” secure the dominant position, or get something they want.  Still, for most of the aggressive personalities, causing pain and injury to others is not their primary objective.  Triumph is their ultimate aim, even if someone has to get hurt in the process.   Sadistic-aggressive personalities, however, are primarily interested in hurting, degrading, demeaning, and inflicting agony upon others.  And making someone else grovel is not only the major way sadists secure the dominant position their relationships but also an activity they truly enjoy.  

Now, I must reiterate that there are no real clear, distinct lines between these various aggressive personality sub-types.  In fact, all the aggressive personalities have many more features in common than they do attributes that separate them.   And sometimes a person’s overall interpersonal operating “style” can contain a few of the features of other personality types and sub-types.  Still, it’s helpful to categorize these folks because, for the most part, every individual typically develops a unique and relatively unchanging style of relating that best fits within one of the categories I outline in my books Character Disturbance and In Sheep’s Clothing and the better you’re able to both recognize and understand how to deal with each type, the more empowered you’re going to be in your relationships.

In my first post of this most recent series (see:  Aggressive Personalities:  An Upcoming Refresher Course), I mentioned that early in my clinical studies I’d encountered a businessman who I would categorize as having traits of both the channeled-aggressive and sadistic-aggressive personality.  My experience with this person taught me quite a bit about the nature of character disturbance in general as well some of the key aspects of character disturbance that differentiate it from what had historically been seen as the universal human psychological dysfunction: neurosis.  For one thing, this person knew the kind of person he was  and what motivated him (remember, neurotics are supposed to be unconscious of their underlying motivations and the true nature of their actions), and he wasn’t at all afraid to acknowledge any of these things.  In fact, he was proud of all his unsavory attributes and told me so on numerous occasions.  He once told me completely unprompted that he knew that if he weren’t successful as a ruthless businessman, he would certainly have ended up in prison for most of his life because of his aggressive, defiant ways.   Society’s rules were barriers meant for the weak or insecure.  And he knew that he was made to defy rules and authority since the day he was born.  Fortunately, he happened into a circumstance that allowed him to make a great deal of money and amass a lot of power legitimately, and that’s what kept him out of jail.  Over time, this man would tell me a lot more about himself, demonstrating one of the more important axioms I’ve mentioned about character disturbance:  how much insight he already had (even though the insight itself provided no impetus for him to consider changing his behavior).   But perhaps an even greater teacher than this man’s self-revelation to me was the frequent opportunity I had to watch him in action.  And witnessing on many occasions how he terrorized and demeaned others as well as how much he enjoyed such behavior was a real eye-opener.

One day, while I was still present, the man I will call Vince called one of the female support staffers into his office.  He began to berate her in a most vicious fashion.  And he insinuated many times what little worth this person would have elsewhere on the job market and how fortunate she was to have her well-paying job at his company.   The degree to which he brandished rage had me shaking a bit in my own boots.  And the degree to which he seemed to make this woman feel small and to cower unnerved me.  After he finished berating her, he warned her of the dire consequences that would ensue if she didn’t pay heed to his demand for greater diligence on her part then summarily dismissed her.  But to my great surprise, as soon as the woman left the room, he looked at me and began to chuckle and grinned. He then told me plainly that he had pre-planned his expression of rage and that it was meant to instill fear in the woman, to make her feel like she’d have no value anywhere else but working for him, and that he was sure that as a result she would be more conscientious about doing what he expected of her in her job.

This man’s deliberate use of rage when in fact he was in an upbeat mood made me aware  how rage can be used as a manipulation and control tactic.  Moreover, it doesn’t have to arise out of genuine anger or hurt.  Rather, it can simply be used as just another tool in one’s arsenal to bring someone else to their knees and to get something you want (I discuss the use of rage as a manipulation tactic in In Sheep’s Clothing).   This man was also very adept at spotting really conscientious individuals who happened to be in one-down positions in their lives and were in dire need of support.  These were the kinds of folks he sought to hire because he surmised they’d be willing to put up with his bullying behavior.  And this man took not only took pride in his ability to reduce a person to minuscule size with his demeaning and berating but also truly enjoyed doing so.  It was one of his favorite pastimes.

I’ve encountered many sadistic personalities over the years.  They seem to be an increasing percentage of the aggressive personality types in prison settings these days.  And while they’re not very common in the general population, they can cause  an inordinate amount of distress in the lives of those who happen to become entangled in some kind of relationship with them.  

Traditional personality development theories have always viewed individuals like the sadistic personality as becoming the way they are because of deep-seated (and unconscious) feelings of inferiority stemming from being themselves subjected to severe abused or debasement as children. And while it sometimes turns out that such things might be factors, there’s plenty of evidence not all such personalities come from that kind of background.  Some sadistic characters I’ve encountered have even lied about or exaggerated adverse circumstances in their background it to engender sympathy and to make their innate heartlessness seem more understandable and even palatable.  And most of these individuals actually come from unremarkable backgrounds and simply see themselves as superior to those whom they perceive as weaker.  In their disgust of weakness and desire to feel superior, they take a sordid delight in belittling, demeaning, and torturing others. It simply makes them feel good to make someone else feel bad.  And to make other feel small and ineffectual makes them feel large and powerful.   All of the research over the past several years on bullying in schools bears out all I’ve been saying here.  Within the traditional models, bullies used to be seen as “cowards underneath” compensating for feelings of low-esteem by bullying only the weak and steering clear of the strong.  I always thought such views were flawed, and now, thanks to some good research, we now know better.  Bullies simply like to hurt people and target those they perceive as weaker, not only because such folks make easy targets but also because bullies have a natural internal revulsion to such personalities.  And when a young bully gets chronologically older but still hasn’t grown any emotionally, what you’re likely to get is a sadistic-aggressive personality of one degree of severity or another.

It’s dangerous to think there’s any way to be truly safe in any kind of relationship with a sadistic-aggressive personality or immune from the effects of their abuse.  Some folks tell themselves they have sufficient strength to endure the torment they experience.  Others allow themselves to think that as long as they’re appeasing their sadist, they’re safe.   But even though sadists have much more respect for strength than they do for perceived weakness, there’s really no way to be completely safe with them or to be unaffected by the psychological damage they can inflict.  And sometimes sadists develop a special fascination with a particular “target,” taking a sense of “ownership” over that target and exacerbating the risk associated with trying to break free of their grip.  Moreover, sadists can have other aggressive personality traits as well, making them even more dangerous (sadistic predatory aggressives [alt: sadistic psychopaths] are without question the most dangerous people on the planet).  So it’s very important to recognize these personalities early on and do your very best to stay clear of them.

In next week’s post we’ll be talking about the covertly-aggressive personalities and the tactics they use to manipulate and control others.   We’ll round out the series with an article on predatory-aggressives (i.e. psychopaths, sociopaths) that will include some examples from high profile cases that have been in the news in recent months.


184 thoughts on “Demeaning as a Lifestyle: The Sadistic Aggressive

  1. These people ran the Assyrian empire.

    “If you’re looking for the wrath of God, Assyria is a good place to start. Brutal, ravenous, boastful and pitiless, the Assyrians may not have been the most innovative thinkers of the ancient world, but they were among its most rapacious. The Scriptures speak of Assyria as a “bloody city” “full of lies and robbery,” whose “arrogant heart” and “haughty looks” the Lord will punish.

    And he does look haughty, this Ashurnasirpal II whose callous, deadpan gaze stares visitors down in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s “Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria from the British Museum,” on view through Jan. 4, 2009. The MFA has gathered about 250 objects from the British Museum, found in palaces and temples dating from the 9th to 7th centuries B.C., when the Assyrian empire was at its height and its center was Nineveh, roughly where modern-day Mosul sits today.

    It is a freakishly dazzling exhibition, whose shocking, gory bas-reliefs still manage to freeze the blood. That, of course, was the intent. The Assyrians were manifestly vicious warriors, but they were also terrifically effective propagandists. The bas-reliefs here, among the best produced in the ancient-world, have a singular purpose: to scare you to death.

    They manage to do so quite effectively, with graphic images of decapitations, flaying, immolations, tongue removals and the proverbial impaling on sticks. For the Assyrians, landlocked thugs who needed to expand to prosper, image was everything. The image they wanted to project was that of your worst nightmare. Don’t mess with us, say these comic-band-like reliefs, or you are likely to be grinding your ancestors’ bones into clay before we club you to death in front of your closest relatives.

    The Assyrians were the bogey men of the Ancient World, and although there is ample evidence for their barbarity in their own and other sources, including Herodotus, it’s unclear that they were any more vicious than any of their contemporaries. What is different — and intriguing — is that the Assyrians promoted themselves that way — the gangstas of the Ancient world. As Will and Ariel Durant observed, “the Assyrians seemed to find satisfaction … in torturing captives, blinding children before the eyes of their parents, flaying men alive, roasting them in kilns, chaining them in cages for the amusement of the populace and then sending the survivors off to execution.”

    1. This reminds me of a passage of prophecy from the Bible….2nd Timothy 3;1-5,…….”but mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of Godliness but denying it’s power. Have nothing to do with such people”.
      Doesn’t this perfectly describe the current generation of narcissism that we see becoming so prolific! I am not a religious person however this perfectly describes the capitalist economies and the disastrous consequences to those who have come to live in them.

  2. I really wish I never run into a sadist. Thank you for informing about all these dangerous people, Dr Simon.

    I’ve talked about this sinister man before I met during my stint in army. From how I saw him behave on several occasions and from what I heard from a few trusted friends(who I have reason to believe and who themselves have reason to conclude as they do) that he aimed to get into leadership training, because he liked to shout at people. So, a little love of dominance there, much? Luckily he wasn’t an actual sadist, considering he still acted unpleasant and obnoxious.

    What am I trying to say by this? Be observant about others’ motivations.

    From that, I pick up another point. Know your own motivations as well.

  3. Dr Simon, do you think the worst of the worst of these people or people who have been this way for a very long time are so far gone that they are beyond choosing? Like the option between doing what society expects and what they want….essentially does not exist anymore?
    I basically can’t imagine a serial rapist/ murderer waking up in the morning and wondering ……hmmm….should I go volunteer at the soup kitchen today or go kill someone just for the heck of it?
    There seems to be an unconscious compulsion factor going on to some degree or another because so much of their behavior is very self defeating.

  4. An interesting quote along those lines………

    Choice implies consciousness – a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present….Nobody chooses dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life.

    Eckhart Tolle

    Source: The Power of Now : A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Pages: 226

    1. First of all, I love Eckhart Tolle, good neurotic that I am. And he speaks so poetically about the plight of all neurotics. But the problem is that thinkers like him have always tried to view impaired characters within the same framework. True, there actually are some of these really disturbed personalities whose styles do arise out of a deep and unresolved neurosis. The big problem is that this small group is not the majority. Most of these bad actors are VERY aware What seems to be a lack of insight about the ultimately socially maladaptive (and therefore, as you say: “self-defeating”) character of their behavior has more to do with the fact that they lack the empathy necessary to CARE about the social impact of their behavior. In that sense, of course, they don’t “see” what most everyone else seems to see. But that doesn’t mean they’re not fully aware and don’t freely choose their course. And although it seems “crazy” to us, they’re not crazy either.

      For all my love of Tolle and all the other great and enlightened philosophers before him who influenced traditional paradigms, I must say that clinging to these notions when it comes to understanding the most character disturbed among us is not only not helpful but sometimes down right dangerous.

      Still, I love Eckhart. And I love The Power of Now.

      1. “Nobody choses dysfuntion, conflict, pain.” Yes, but that can be used to obscure the fact that some people choose to bully and manipulate other people, because it gives them what they want, when they want it. Many of us give in just to have some “peace” and feed this pattern.

        Why is it so important to you, Puddle, to search for rationales for their behavior, when learning to deflect, and protect self, and to not feed those behaviors, is so much more important for your well being?

        It’s a puzzle for me… I am having a hard time talking to people about this because everyone wants to believe that the CAs are somehow poor suffering souls, and I am an ol’ meanie for calling them out on it. (scratching me noggin)

        1. What is important to me Vera is understanding to the best of my ability. If you think that I’m excusing their behavior or would not hold my ex accountable if I could in some way you are mistaken.
          I am seeking understanding so I ask questions. And I fully relate to what you say about people not getting it”. I know for a fact that I would not have “gotten it” before surviving a relationship with a sociopath.

          I wonder wonder wonder……Spath X’s father was a Spath, I’m almost sure of it. I think he corrupted my Spath x as a child, teenager and young adult. He is living his life by the example that was forced on him in a very insidious way when he was too young and mailable to defend himself. So, the die was cast and the groves were worn in the track I’d guess by the time he was 20.
          Both of his parents have contributed to him being shaped in the way he was shaped. It’s like he was designated to be the family poison container. Sick and tragic. Then, as an “adult” ( which on an emotional level he is clearly not) he has lived his life with as much self respect as one would expect from a poison container. With no self respect, he has no respect for others. With no empathy and stunted emotions and feelings, he can’t relate to the pain he inflicts. His parents cut him off at the knees before he ever learned to walk. Seemingly his mother has a vested interest in him continuing to crawl through life.

          This is the most profound, and succinct thing I’ve ever read on the topic…….

          “The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself. ”

          Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

          1. My sadistic aggressive was and is the golden child. He believes his own propaganda thoroughly in the face of evidence he should abandon his ways. He has momentary glimpses of lucidity or so it appears but recreates himself sometimes within the hour. He has taken the MMPI and scored a 70 on the sadism measure. The Dr. downplayed that and was strongly suggesting marriage counseling saying scores over 75 were problematic and he was still in the “realm of reachability” sorry, not sorry, I know what my experience has been and no thank you for the future gaslighting sessions.

            Would someone who understands mmpi scoring please weigh in here, 70 under sadism, that’s subclinical sadism right?

        2. Vera, I so agree with you. I believe that people who continually try to understand aggressors, believe that if they understand why aggressors act that way, they (the victims) have a chance of changing the aggressors behavior. Aggressors (personality disordered etc) are that way. It is their nature (DNA). Just like sharks will kill, and so will sting rays, or other predators. Human predators ( aggressives, personality disordered) have to pretend empathy, to put themselves in an optimal position to exploit other humans most effectively. Projecting our compassion onto these predators ..helps them ply their trade. Anyway, this is what I’ve learned and it works for me. We don’t try to understand sharks, snakes, bears, sting rays, or mommie guppies who eat their babies. We don’t explain these predatory behaviors on their parents or environment. It is their nature. We deal the the situation as best we can, and the best way IMHO, to deal with aggressives (if you must stay in contact, and it is safe), is to call them on their unconscionable behavior . . ( and because they must maintain a “good guy” mask. . . it reduces their frequency of aggression.)

      2. I believe that what Eckhart Tolle is referring to by being “conscious” is different than knowing what you are doing. ” Conscious ” meaning awake and in line with higher consciousness. Spaths are in a coma in this regard. They are on auto pilot in that sense. They operate from a very low spiritual awareness level. Low principles, values, base, primitive, predators.
        ” Not enough light to dispel the darkness”.

      3. Yes recently have been reading Tolle trying to figure out how to deal with a covert aggressive sadist who also happens to be my boss, and it’s making me feel even more defunct and allowing her to feed off my empathy and further gaslight me. It’s a real dilemma I want to be kind and empathetic, but at the same token I don’t think it’s healthy to give up my own dignity as a being deserving of a niche and dignity on this earth. I’ve recently begun to withdraw and become short on temper and totally depressed thinking I now need therapy because of this. I can almost hold it in until I’m outside of her realm and then resentment has built and I find myself fighting over stupid things like parking spaces and a place in line, and utility companies, just to assert my dignity in some defunct attempt to salvage some of it because I know I’m giving it away every day. It’s just another form of what has been taken from me because I was never this way before. It’s a pretty good job that pays decent in a bad economy and partially feel that if I don’t deal with this now I’m just going to encounter it again. Where do I go from here, and how do I make sure I don’t give up my entire being so some sadist can get her jollies watching me fall apart or can accomplish the goal of getting me to quit? (Or fired since I’m pretty sure I’m starting to look suicidal and so emotional I can barely hold in the tears). My biggest problem is that the world is so full of these types of people and I make a good victim. I really feel dismayed that I may always be trapped in conflict fighting to hang on to dignity. I keep trying to think of the good ones and telling myself they are out there but I don’t even know how to trust anyone anymore. I have put up a wall so high no one can get in.

      4. Yes Dr Simon, I love Tolle too but I learned that ‘This too does not pass unless I get a move on and take some action towards getting away from it!’

  5. Personally I think most of us are running on auto pilot to varying degrees. Sociopaths are to a greater degree than most. My ex is 48 and at this stage of the game the ruts are worn so deep that he will more than likely keep circling the track in the same groves the rest of his life unless something very serious broadsides him and knocks his car out of those groves. More than likely he’s going to crash into the guardrail if or when that happens. His emotionally incestous copilot mother has one hand on the wheel, I might add, so any attempt he makes to change course will be severely hampered by her enabling influence. It’s sick.

    1. There’s absolutely nothing autopilot about predatory types (i.e. sociopaths, psychopaths). There’s way too much calculating and careful planning when it comes to victimization for that to be true. Perhaps you’re confusing the term with garden variety antisocials, who sometimes are simply walking impulses. But even they are not truly unaware.

      1. I think there is some confusion. I’m not saying that their auto pilot has to do with not knowin what they are doing…..more WHY they are doing it. Like an alcoholic who is deep in addiction. They know what they are doing,,,,drinking,,,,,but not why as long as they are in the throws of their addiction.
        I hope that is clearer.

        1. Again, I think the analogy is unnecessary and mostly counterproductive. Whether they’ve been so used to doing something that it becomes automatic is definitely not the same as an addict deep in addiction. Unless a person is in the throes of psychosis, most behavior is goal-oriented and purposeful. And certain interaction strategies are settled upon early on by most personalities. They begin to feel quite comfortable with their “style” and it becomes automatic. And most importantly, they’re extremely aware of motivation. Were that not the case, none of the responsibility-avoidance and manipulation tactics they use could be employed with such precision and dexterity.

          1. Dr. Simon…….I don’t think I’m saying what I’m thinking clearly but that’s ok for now. I understand what you are saying.
            I say,,,,,,I’d like to ship them all to another planet!!

          2. No problem. And your comments have added greatly to the discussion. Perhaps I get a bit overly zealous when it comes to not thinking in the terms most of us neurotics do when it comes to understanding the folks that are different on so many levels. But it’s been my experience that when we try to view such folks in terms that make sense to us and resonate with our experience we disadvantage ourselves in our encounters with these folks from a different world (LOL!).

          3. Dr. Simon, I’m a 51-year old, American male, married 24 years to the woman whom I believe to be my “soulmate”–We have had, however, an extremely difficult go of it, especially these last few years. It has come to my attention only recently (upon the occasion of my finding & reading a psychiatric evaluation of me for inclusion in a Worker’s Comp claim–an evaluation, by the way, which bears a WARNING/DISCLAIMER at the beginning not to allow the subject to read its contents, as “it may cause undue harm to the patient”) that the attending psych says I tested as “having Personality Disorder of a primarily Passive-Agressive and Aggressive-Sadistic type.” He also reported that I was somewhat Compulsive & was plagued by Perfectionism, but showed no signs of Psychosis: Armed with this information, it has now become apparent as to why I’ve had so much trouble in my relationship.

            Dr., I truly & dearly love my wife, but after all this time, she is at her wit’s end–We haven’t the resources to seek “professional help,” remain currently uninsured (despite Obamacare), and she maintains an embittered opposition to going to marriage counseling: in the interest of fair-play, I’d like to share with her this latest discovery about my personality problems, but am deathly afraid that, if I do, I might drive the proverbial final nail in the metaphorical coffin that is becoming our relationship.

            Please advise, and I thank you for your time…

          4. Although for various important reasons I cannot and do not assess situations from such a distance or give direct advice, when I find some time I’ll send along some possibly helpful expansions on the principles I advocate in my books via the back-channel email through which you also contacted me. Close familiarity with my books, especially Character Disturbance will help you understand and utilize the information.

          5. Dr. Simon, that is why these diaries are so important so to speak. Your books illustrate so many things that are so true. But when you have dialog and the input from so many different stories from so many people in all walks of life reporting the same thing it sheds the ultimate truth on these CD individuals. No matter how you cut it, paint it, cover it up, all the scientific studies on the pathology, the who, what and why 99.9 percent of the time THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, THEY JUST DONT CARE.” Thank you for the validation, we need to, at least I do, hear it over and over again.

      2. I am wonderful person and I always near people like that. I dont understand why they like me so much. My ex was like that and I my boss used to sadist, and my ex friend she would step on the dead body to get what she want. But they like to be near nice and good people. They know that I have good soul and will feel sorry for them

  6. I’ve read about the importance of owning one’s choices. For those closer to more socially conscientous or proper end of the spectrum it means acknowledging those unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings that arise when living in a world where some people think and act like they can do anything they please.

    Those with undeveloped moral integrity or stunted emotional and social maturity may have gotten that way because they didn’t have better role models to grow up with, but they more often than not know what they do and why, let alone what others would think of it and why caring about that is “bullshit”(because it’s giving up their wonderful “special status”). These responsibility-impaired people disown their choices. That, too, is a choice.

  7. This is a simple observation about how to deal with aggressive people that anyone can apply and it works (for me & my friends).
    Background – usually aggressive people are always defining (or accusing/blaming) us. For example: AGGRESSIVES say: “YOU always”, “YOU didn’t”,”YOU are so”, “YOU never”, “YOU should have”, “YOU are too”. Usually we wind up defending ourselves. (Which confirms to the aggressive that they were right!)
    I think a simple way to stop them (dead in their tracks), is to start our response with the word “YOU”, and whatever follows will (most likely) be OK. Such as “YOU are always accusing me”, “YOU never appreciate what I do”, “YOU are always picking on me”, “YOU are never satisfied”, “YOU are always losing your temper”, “YOU are always accusing/blaming me”. It is not natural for us victims to fight back in this way . . but if we can just remember to start with the word “YOU”, we’re half way there.

    1. Dear Sarah, if it was only that simple, I noticed that as soon you apply the “you” back to them, you meet a higher level of hostility and fysical aggression, i.e violence…maybe because they feel corned, on top of that they deny and keep denying their inappropriate behavior, so personally, and I am still trying to find a reasonable way of dealing with them (my partner) is to remove myself from the situation and leave the person for some time alone with his anger and frustration, nothing constructive comes out of it when they feel the need to attack you verbally and fysically, which can all of sudden completely “out of the blue” happen and I learned that if you say things like, “you are a bully” etc, the base answer I always receive is; “get out if you dont like it”…..which means I lose the person I love and care for so much….

  8. of course, you could also reply: “YOU are a BULLY”, “YOU are lying”, “YOU are delusional”, “YOU have no conscience”, “YOU are full of hate(rage) and anger”, “YOU are a toxic person”, “YOU are crazy/a narcissist/an aggressive SOB etc. Many (or most) of these will in fact be true (and they know it).

    1. I don’t recommend it. First, you are in a better position not disclosing your hand (knowing what they are about), and second, blaming them back just turns you into another blamer-attacker.

      Better say… I don’t play the blame game, and I am off to a walk. We’ll talk when you’ve calmed down.

      Or so I think! 🙂

      1. I totally agree with you Vera. Why give this aggressive person legitimacy ? You wouldn’t argue with a rock. Don’t even bother saying things like”You are a bully”….etc. One of the best reactions is no reaction because this person and their opinions should be treated like they are meaningless to your life. You care so little about them that their words sound like a foreign language to you and you can just smile and nod.
        If this jabber is coming from an employer then you might want to secretly record the rants and save them for future use should you become let go of your position due to your inability to be discouraged by the rants.

      2. That is exactly what I do, the “playing game” is something he always brings up in every confrontation, “I play games”, so I always stop the blaming cycle by saying “I do not join the GAME, I do not play games” with people and life, “my intensions are sincere”….after 4 years, I still find myself saying it, but still know it is true and the one diffuser during the “blame” attack.

    2. If it’s not a situation where I’m in a clearly inferior position(like being robbed or an aggressor happening to be my superior) and I’m not in the risk of physical harm, I’d say: “Excuse me?” “I beg your pardon?” “What did you just say?” “What’s that I hear?” “It’s a shame you choose to behave that way.”

      Of course, it’s action that matters more. Even when one uses words, it’s important to stay connected to that rational part of us, especially when we are in a high-octane situation(thank you, Albert Bernstein for this tip in Emotional Vampires!) and stay mature, levelheaded and firm all throughout.

      I had one such instance during my stint in army training. I was among those staying in the barracks over weekend to complete some practices I had missed thanks to being ill. I’ve been chosen as a second assistant duty officer and an acquaintance of mine asks me to announce a friend of his he hasn’t been able to find. Thinking that’s permissible, I make a mistake of complying to the request.

      Of course, soon thereafter, this man(let’s call him Cole) comes to take care of an assistant duty officer’s task until the main duty officer gets back from eating. The first thing Cole does is to demand me to stand straight in front of the desk because I’ve acted against the rules. I say “Excuse me” at first and he tells me to stop shouting while shouting himself. Feeling he likely enjoys a power trip while following rules and regulations to cover up how irresponsible he is(or perhaps to compensate for deficient people skills), I still go along.

      Cole asks me why I did what I did. I know there’s obviously no good answer and I’m in a bad position. I think of how to respond in as dignified a manner as possible. As he tells me he could report me to superiors, I answer: “I apologize for my mistake.” He looks flabbergasted like he’s just seen an alien.

      He lets me go as I promise to ask the main duty officer myself and he wants to know if he can do the same thing announcing as I did.

      Instead I meet another training corporal in the hallway(let’s call her Tina). Since tha min duty officer is still eating, I explain the situation to Tina, amazed myself how neutral I manage to stay. I have brought myself to accept I may face some consequences for my mistake and ask if Cole can report me. Some fellow servicemen interrupt us to tell they overheard everything(because Cole has acted like an asshole or demonstrated lack of people skills many times). Tina then goes up to Cole. While I can’t hear their conversation, apparently she tells him his approach was unnecessarily abrasive.

      I ask the main duty officer myself and he says I couldn’t know that what I’d do would be a mistake(whether that’s so or just a consolation, I’m not sure). He kindly tells me to avoid doing so in the future. I end up mentioning this to Cole. Cole seems fairly content, because in that regard, he was still right. He doesn’t come after me. Unnecessary troubles averted.

      You could make a case Cole tried to be more responsible and went about it the wrong way and I wouldn’t exclude that. What I generally observed from him does allow room for doubt, though.

      In any case, we need to learn to handle ourselves better so we last longer, emerge okay or find a way out quickly, if we were to run into a trying situation.

    3. I think at this point if I had a do over,,,,,the one thing I wish I would have said to just about anything Spathx said, was ” I’m sorry, I don’t believe you”. That would fit more offen than not.
      Or, ” what you are saying doesn’t make spence to me”. “It just doesn’t make sense”! ”
      The other tool I would have liked to have had in my toolbox is this…..let him empty his hot air balloon until satiated and quiet and then simply ask, ” are you done? Because if you are, I’d like you to leave now”. How dare he speak to me in the way he did in my home! Looser.

      1. instead of “I don’t believe you” . . . I would suggest “YOU are lying”
        Instead of “what you are saying doesn’t make sense sense to me” ?.I would suggest “YOU don’t make sense”.
        instead of asking “are you done?.. I would suggest “YOU are done!”
        These statements put the blame where it belongs, and is more accurate. I don’t think there is any reason to sugar coat your response to abuse.

        1. Sarah, a better way to say the same thing is: I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way. I’d like you to leave now. These statements really do need to be worded from an ” I” perspective. We need to speak up for ourselves instead of down at them.

          1. Actually . . I think talking from an “I” perspective is THE MISTAKE we make. I’m very aware that that is what psychologists have always recommended. But IMHO, they were wrong! I think, ( and my experience has confirmed this), that it is much more effective NOT to use “I”. “I” is weak, it assumes responsibility, and aggressors don’t respect when you say “I”. Go directly to YOU (like they do). This is the language they understand, respect, respond to, and cathect with. It is the language of the aggressor. Furthermore, it is quite empowering for the victim. Again…only when it is safe. In my case, I prefer E-mail for that purpose. In the moment, I usually don’t have my wits about me to respond appropriately. So, when I get home, I write a little E-mail saying quoteing what they called you, and then I write “YOU are a bully (or liar or abusive). STOP IT!” And sometimes I also add “bullying is immature, classless, and weak”.
            This works (for a while). The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

          2. Perhaps even more powerful that the “I” or “you” statements are the ones that focus specifically on the BEHAVIOR of concern.

  9. I have found, that once they know you have their number, they “cease & desist” for a while. This works for me, but it’s not a long term solution. Aggressors try again (after some time has passed), and then I “put the blame where it belongs” again. The long term solution IMHO is NC (no contact). These demented people are wired differently, and aggression is a part of their nature (DNA). They can’t be stopped indefinitely, but their aggression can be managed (for a while). And personally . . I feel MUCH better when I have stood up for myself, and “call a spade (aggressor), a spade (aggressor)”. I do not let those toxic, mean spirited, (sadistic) aggressors abuse me. Further, they have no respect for a nice rational person. They see it as a weakness that they can exploit, and they will, at their next opportunity.

    1. I am all for standing up for yourself. Not for attacking back, stooping to their methods. If you note, Dr Simon is respectful towards their persons, even as he calls them on their crap (their behavior).

      I agree, creating distance is the only way with most of these people.

        1. Well, I used to live with one, and calling him names accomplished nothing. And he snickered because he got me where he wanted me… frustrated and abusive back. Besides, I believe that humans in their essence are to be respected, all of us. It is people’s bad behavior that ought to be the target.

          1. True Vera. It has to be…..if you do X, I will DO Y.. If you act like a sociopath, I will leave, not spend time with you, call the cops, get a divorce, etc……and then do it.

          2. Amen….when I called my ex names it excited him. He got what he was after which was to have evidence I was hurting. I learned to show zero emotion which was the only thing that worked. Unfortunately he grew frustrated with it and eventually escalated.

    2. Sarah, you are saying that the proof is in the eating yet also saying that your method only works for a while. Your true power lies with you.. To make clear to them what you will or will not tolerate. The reason your method only works for a while is because it doesn’t work (in my opinion). They don’t cart what names you call them and if they ACT hurt because of what you have said to them, it’s just an act to make you feel bad and manipulate you further. I honestly think that for the most part, at least the guy I was dealing with, the answer is to cut and run and get the hell away from them in as safe a way possible and stay away.

      1. Yes, of course, the best solution, is No Contact Ever Again (NCEA). If that is not possible, this is 2nd best (if it is safe), because it keeps them off you back (temporarily), and keeps you in a position of power. In other words, it lessens the frequency of put-downs/abuse. Anyway, that has been my experience.

  10. Some good comments, everyone. But let’s not forget how unnecessary it is most of the time as well as how counterproductive it is to say anything. The assertive action you take is much more important and ultimately empowering than anything you say in retort or reply. Besides, it’s not like you’re really illuminating them on anything. And if you want them to know you’re on to their game and won’t play, actions speak much louder than words.

    1. A part of an assertive action you can take is VERBAL, which may be the only action available at the time (since other more effective actions such as NC “no contact” are not possible).

      1. True. Just wanted to stress the importance of action. And even if certain actions are pragmatically not possible because of the nature of potential adverse consequences, one always has greater power when taking concrete steps to set boundaries, enforce limits, and self-assert.

        1. Dr Simon I’m just wondering what is the first boundary you would build yourself to protect yourself from a disturbed character. My ex husband I believe is a disturbed character which one? I’m not sure but He definitiely fits the description and has all the behaviours and characteristics of one… And I def wear the scars from his past abuses. I really want to know where to start building my life and my boundaries cos this guy loves to kick them down with full force, I still have to have interactions with him cos of the kids. Please help me…

          1. The very first rule: Don’t base your self-appraisal on anything but how you conduct yourself in accordance with your own principles. Others may “invite” you to appraise yourself negatively based on their opinions of you, but you have the power to “accept” or “reject” those “invitations.” Be confident enough in your own moral integrity and the values to which you strive to adhere to base your opinion of yourself solely on how true you are to those things. Observe this rule first, and all the other necessary rules will become clear, obvious, and easier to abide by. 🙂

          2. The boundary you start with is the one that is most important to you while he is most eager to kick it down. Ey?

      2. I think it’s important if you are defending with things that start with ‘you’, that they are facts and not opinions, else you fall into the trap of being like them. No sentence that starts with ‘you are always’ is true. ‘You are being a bully right now’ is a more unarguably accurate description of the current state, and allows the opportunity for those who are not full time agressors to consider their behaviour. Also perhaps saying nothing and yawning let’s them know, when you can’t get a word in, that they are not saying anything new with their accusations and tactics.
        There’s no one way that will always work, I’ve stayed calm with a psycho neighbor and said ‘it’s late, you’ve had a drink, I’m ready to listen to you tomorrow but now is not the time’. It didn’t work because he was an assholes but I at least gave him the chance not to be.

        1. Jaded, the issue is that they always have the advantage because they know what they are doing long before they do it and they know why they are doing it. A lot of the time there actions, tactics, attacks come out of left field and take us by surprise so our responses are at least partially based on a state of confusion, this is all before we have learned what they really are doing of course. If I said anything that was a “you” statement, he would turn it around on me IMMEDIATELY. “well YOU,,,,,,,blah blah blah”. and then I would defend myself instead of saying something as simple as,,,,,,,”I wasn’t talking about my behavior Spathtard but if you have a problem with it I’d be happy to heard it another time”. Or, “what does my behavior have to do with what I’m talking about right now”? he knew he could off track me and did so on a regular basis because i always want to know if I have done something wrong or inadvertently said something hurtful. my mouth gets ahead of my mind sometimes or maybe behind it but i find myself wondering, all the time, did I say that right? Or was what I said hurtful or come out wrong or that didn’t sound right or like what I was trying to say. ALL the time. So it’s a very easy inroad with me.
          Speaking of which, Einstein,,,,,,,,,,,,are you upset with me because of a response I made a while back. It’s been bothering me because i think I responded in a way that may have come across badly??

      3. Dr Simon,

        This all bears repeating.

        “even if certain actions are pragmatically not possible because of the nature of potential adverse consequences, one always has greater power when taking concrete steps to set boundaries, enforce limits, and self-assert.”

        “Don’t base your self-appraisal on anything but how you conduct yourself in accordance with your own principles. Others may “invite” you to appraise yourself negatively based on their opinions of you, but you have the power to “accept” or “reject” those “invitations.” Be confident enough in your own moral integrity and the values to which you strive to adhere to base your opinion of yourself solely on how true you are to those things. Observe this rule first, and all the other necessary rules will become clear, obvious, and easier to abide by.”

        I think this article is along the lines. If someone else has already posted this, sorry for being redundant.

        1. Timothy, thanks for posting this site with the above referenced article. Sometimes these topics have so many comments now it is hard to follow. Please never feel info that may benefit is redundant, its so easy to miss something and especially to absorb so many stories. Again many thanks!

        2. Oh, I’ve read so many posts here that have lots of info all bundled together. 😀 Downside, kinda hard to follow.

        3. But thanks, BTOV! Encouraging words, very appreciated. 🙂

          About the article, it’s interesting this things about critical inner voice.

    2. Amen. Towards the end, I would simple stand there looking at him while he berated me and when he was out of air, I would leave the room. My silence left the slime on him. As soon as you open your mouth with this guy his mission has been accomplished, which was to slime me. The more I said the more ammo he had.
      He’s a toddler. Ridiculous. I’m so glad I didn’t have children with him and I have nothing but sympathy for the two women who did.

  11. If you allow an aggressor to put-you-down/define you/abuse you etc. (i.e.,if you “take the high road”) … You are left feeling bad and the aggressor is left feeling good.
    If you speak up for yourself, and blame the aggressor for their aggression/abuse/sadism etc . . . You are left feeling good, and they are left…(well…who the H*&L cares?)
    I’d rather be left feeling good, and knowing I protected/defended myself (of course only if it’s safe to do so).

    1. Sticks and stone may break their bones but words can never hurt them. What do they care what you call them? They already know what they are. Consequences that matter is what will stop them. What you DO differently… not whether you spew invectives.

    1. Instead of considering what “they hate”, I think it’s preferable to consider what makes “you feel good”. What makes me feel good is blaming right back for their unconscionable aggression/lying/abuse/sadism/manipulation etc.

    2. I didn’t know until years later he was behind a mask. It slipped completely once he had a new supply secured. He continued to try to play me as I stepped outside my feelings to become an observer of his behavior. First boundary limited communication to answering mail/texts in a businesslike way, one topic only (no more responding to the diatribe of complex vagueries and “word salad”). I continued to enforce my rules of engagement until I was able to cut-off all contact by blocking it. Once no contact, my body finally began to regain normalcy rather than anticipating another upset from him. I had to stop making excuses for his behavior . He liked to create drama and found pleasure in causing pain. Getting myself to accept that truth was difficult, but it helped me immensely.

  12. When they are in full on Spath mode…..anything that comes out of your mouth will be used against you. You will get slimed!! That’s what they want! Attention and drama and a chance to make you feel what they can not. They are monsters. Twisted

        1. I have told you what WORKS best for me & my friends (when No Contact is impossible.). If you don’t like it, don’t do it.

  13. I am not saying to spew invectives. I am saying call them on bad behavior in ( in a matter of fact way). If it’s easier, do it in an E-mail (which has worked well for me).

    1. Something that ” works” doesn’t just work for a while. What has actually changed? What do you mean by
      ” it works for you and your friends”?

  14. Isn’t handling and protecting ourselves the most important? Of course, every situations has to be quickly evaluated. Perhaps it’s not so much in whether there’s a response or no response. Perhaps it’s about keeping our calmness or emotional control. Spaths, covert-aggressive peopple, sadists, abusers and their ilk can spew vemon at or about anyone.

    They CAN personalize the hell out of it. There’s a great example about a poor soul caught in the barrage of verbal assaulting on Youtube. It’s a nine-part documentary called I, Psychopath.

    Abusers and aggressors know how to make it appear personal. It’s easy to forget. They don’t really see us, they just see us as shadows.

  15. Then there’s autonomous complex, unconscious impulses acting contrary to our conscious wishes. That definitely has to be taken into account.

    I say this as someone, who has experienced annoying and inconvenient moments thanks to unconscious impulses messing with how I consciously want to perform.

    1. By this, I mean we have to be aware of our unconscious energies that interfere with how we conscious aim to act.

      1. Just want to stress, J, that these last few comments of yours are excellent reminders for us neurotics out there to contemplate. But I also want to be sure that folks don’t ascribe some of these notions to the more charater-disturbed folks because the metaphors start really breaking down and we sometimes put ourselves in a position to be victimized by misinterpreting situations when we start second-guessing what the underlying “unconscious” energies or motivations might be in the disturbed character’s behavior.

        1. Yes, prevailing notions die hard.

          Long ago I read some books and online articles about psychological abusers including statements they do it to compensate for their feelings of being out of control and lack of self-esteem. Surprisingly, when reading between the lines, they don’t see these kinds of people as similar to neurotics, who would behave better after insight about their behavior. They are still characterized as people, who haven’t matured emotionally and morally and don’t care to take responsibility for their behavior. Once again, the self-esteem’n’self-respect -issue.

          Perhaps it could be said that neurotics disown uncomfortable feelings, disturbed characters disown reponsibility.

        2. Also, some thoughts after reading Judas Syndrome. Have you ever run into a socially conscientious person, who know full well what a disturbed character in their life really is like inside yet STILL entertain the misguided notion they could lead that person to have a change of heart?

          1. Yes, unfortunately I have encountered several such folks. I even know of several cases where a priest “exculpated” a person (i.e. agreed to personally assume and bear any guilt associated with the action he was advising) and advised that they severe relationship ties with an abusive person but the person still not only believed they had the power to persuade the abusive party to change but also saw themselves as having the responsibility to try and do so. A very unhealthily overactive conscience, indeed!

        3. I don’t want to type a giant wall of text. Third reply it is.

          About these energies: We humans share these urges, drives or needs to different degrees. The desire to be heard and feel important, the avoidance of unpleasant things, the need for validation, among other things.

          I comprehend it like this: Neurotics cut off some natural desires, since they are “unacceptable”. They end up pushing them into unconscious. They strain themselves in order to “be acceptable”. It builds up tension. When energy flow is blocked like this(and I unfortunately have done it without realizing, even though I haven’t done so out of anxiety, just out of lacking awareness), it tends to come out in some other way.

          The same thing if we just ignore them and think they go away. I recommend people to Google “active imagination”.

          When it comes to ways of handling these urges, disturbed characters haven’t disciplined themselves and thus they identify with these urges. Indulge in them, take pleasure in them. After all, they crave instant respect without effort, loathe to delay gratification, strive for dominance above all else and think of themselves as the only valid people in existence. These same energies are conscious in disturbed characters and show up in different forms. To use an analogy, they show up as gigantic, grotesquely overbloated monsters where boundaries and moral structures are destroyed.

          1. So, to put it short, these energies need to be disciplined. Properly moral and emotionally mature people are far more willing for guidance on that.

          2. J…..this sounds like something worth expanding on and fleshing out. Worthy of further thought. I think there are a lot more facets of this but what you say here sounds like a solid foundation.
            I basically see them as toddlers in varying degrees…..only they are dangerous.

          3. The discipline of a toddler they surely have. They like to follow what they feel like at the moment and reflecting on themselves is like submitting to defeat.

            Then we come to another side of this. Neurotics are far more moral. Morality requires emotional development. They still have emotional conflicts, because they push away frightening, uncomfortable, unacceptable energies. Also, I figure another types of energies storm inside them. Their conscience is overactive. They want to avoid trouble, they want to get along, they want to avoid unpleasant things(which shows in extremely different a way from character-impaired folks, who want to avoid effort instead of adverse consequences). These desires and those cut-off energies looming in the background together create even more unease.

            I conclude that emotional and moral development is separate from disciplining one’s flowing energies.

          4. Neurotics cut off energies deemed unacceptable(until they become aware and and accidentally tap, in excess, into anxious energies(feelings can be described as energies, after all) that are supposed to help survive dangers, even those . Disturbed characters tap into aggressive energies all too natural to humans.

            It’s about energies you keep feeding and how you build those moral structures in the middle of the landscape of your mind.

          5. What it boils down to is what’s been talked about in self-help over and over again: mastery of oneself. Some people are content with their destructive habits. Some people have many inhibitions, hang-ups or other habits to limit them to growing up to what they could be.

            Dr Simon mentions in Character Disturbance how existence of self-actualized people is dubious. Doesn’t that tie into the theme of faith in Judas Syndrome in some way? There is a connection between self-mastery and faith, of that I’m sure.

          6. Unfortunately I don’t. I’m not anywhere near Dr Simon’s level in information or experience. Also I’m not quite sure if I have much enough to keep a blog going on on regular basis. I may at some point come up with a blog, but I can’t promise anything.

            Please feel free to share your thoughts.

          7. “Dr Simon mentions in Character Disturbance how existence of self-actualized people is dubious.”

            What’s being self-actualized anyway?

  16. Another reason I believe “I” statements are weak, is because these aggressors don’t care what you think or how you feel. (If they didn’t they wouldn’t hurt/abuse/put-you-down in the first place.). Them them (IMHO), and “I” statement from you just confirms the fact that they have gotten to you. Yes, I know, It’s backwards of a healthy relationship. If you say (as an example) “I am hurt when you call me $%^%”. The victim might be thinking the aggressor will stop because he doesn’t want to hurt me. The aggressor might be thinking YES!, I’ve gotten to her, I’ve won!
    Instead, if you say “YOU are a BULLY, STOP!”. The aggressor would think … she gets me and she didn’t absorb my put-down (it wasn’t effective).
    Of course, once you’re into this relationship insanity, leave with NC if you can. Don’t say . . “if you continue to act this way I’ll leave”. JUST LEAVE (if it is safe to do so). If you can safely leave, without serious repercussions, and you don’t leave, know that IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN, and IT WILL ESCALATE.

    1. “I feel” statements don’t work with them, that is true. But there are plenty of other I statements that do. “I do not allow that sort of behavior around me, and I am leaving.” That’s far more powerful than calling someone names and telling them to stop, over which you have zero control.

      1. If you say “I do not allow that sort of behavior around me” etc.
        The abuser could think “well, that’s just you, and you’re wrong”.
        If you mention the aggressive behavior and say YOUR are
        abusive/manipulative/sadistic/whatever . . you are putting the blame squarely where it belongs, and you are not absorbing any possibility that you are wrong. There is “no way out for the aggressor” to think that you think another victim might think differently. Aggressors are not used to being called on their actions, so they have to go back to the drawing board, and drum up another way to relieve their aggressive nature, since what they do customarily no longer works for them. In the mean time, they’ll stop messing with your head . . . cause it doesn’t work!

        1. Who cares what the abuser thinks? The point is, I made my boundary clear, and I am successfully enforcing it.

          “There is “no way out for the aggressor” to think that you think another victim might think differently.”

          You are still trying to mess with the aggressor rather than taking care of your own stuff. Get out of his mind, and get back into yours!

          As Dr Simon stresses, they already KNOW. They know that I or other people do not want that particular behavior around them. Put your energy on yourself.

      2. Absolutely Vera……it’s the “if you do x, I will do y” .
        Sarah, it all depends on the way you use ” I ” and what type of ” I ” statements you use.
        Like Vera is saying, ” I feel ” messages don’t work with Spaths. I personally like….” I’m out of here”!!!

        This isn’t a ” men are from Mars, women are from Venus ” issue. It’s a men are from Mars, women are from Venus and Spaths are from Hell issue! LOL

        1. Spaths can be born or made, but since they are so conscious how they defy all “bullshit”, I think they are aptly described as self-made.

  17. This analysis describes those with a swagger and who derive pleasure from playing mind-games based on fear, schadenfreude, and a sense of personal empowerment.

    1. Indeed, sociopaths and sadists receive validation for their already inflated egos by such degradation of others. Or could we say their egos are inflated, because their empowermentcomes from such twisted source?

  18. I left my sadistic-agressive ex husband a year and a half ago. I am now completely alone in the world. The few friends I had when we got together fled, for various reasons. I live in a void and feel completely destroyed. I myself was diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder, which is like being neurotic to the tenth power, so I was an ideal target and he treated me with constant loathing and used my diagnosis against me always, saying I couldn’t trust my thoughts and perceptions, that I always misunderstood everything. After 12 years with him, I felt as if I were literally dying, I could feel my body starting to shut down. I fled due to some primal instinct for survival. That and I started keeping a diary of our exchanges, because he’d say “that never happened”, “I never said that” etc. I finally saw that he truly was manipulative and cruel, that it wasn’t me “misunderstanding everything”. He still has his friends, family and lifestyle intact, while I have nothing and noone. I struggle with extreme depression, anorexia and suicidal ideation, but I don’t think I would kill myself and leave such a mess for others to clean up, or worse, survive the attempt. But I suffer greatly. I’d like to see more on how to get over one of these kinds of people. Thank you very much for your work, Dr. Simon, it’s certainly been an eye-opener!

    1. Sounds like a lot of “gaslighting”, eh? Welcome to the club, Robin. We are not alone anymore… people are waking up. At least a few of us, enough to gather and give each other strength. 🙂

      1. …which is so important, I started to doubt myself and actually thought and was told everytime again that I was indeed a crazy person…the gaslighting didn’t help and the violence was always denied, “I dont remember”, simple and easy. In the end I was put on risperdal and clonazepam for “anger issues” as ONCE I defended myself during his violent attack, I broke and could no longer contain my dissappointment, he had me exactly where he wanted me and threw me out of the house as well…I feel much better now but still love him and understand what made him what he is today, a big wolf pretending to be a sheep, a monster crying out for love. He doesn’t understand “caring, loving, supporting”, they’re just words, without empathy those words dont have meaning, and us, people with feelings are indeed the weak once who “gave up” “freedom” and “dont know how to life”…..without proper knowledge to focus again and get some grounding, we’d all go crazy as that is their objective, there is no stopping them even into death…

    2. Dear Robin,
      You are left with the ABILITY to love, trust, and recover from his abuse. He CAN”T change and will always be an empty,angry shell and an excuse for a human being.

    3. I get a lot of requests for more tips about how to “move on” after such a toxic relationship. And I’ll be fashioning a piece specifically on the topic in the coming weeks. If you don’t see one in the next couple of months, remind me!

      1. Dear Dr Simon, your message stating you would write something more on tips on how to move on from aggressors etc was written in 2013, have you written such articles since? thank you so much for this platform, knowledge is everything and so clarifying!!!

    4. These most extremely disturbed characters, sociopaths and sadists, they lack humanity, but they do even experience themselves as human?

    5. I have found these aggressors target you by undermining your support networkto turn your friends & family against you. In my case, my business partner brought this smiley faker into our company as CEO in 2005. This joker quickly turned everyone against each other & my attempts to point this out were characterized as attempts to undermine him.

      As he took credit for my work & blamed me for his incompetence, he became a Messiah & I was perceived to be a villain (although I founded the company & invented the technology). Rather than fight my friends & family, I left in 2006. He portrayed this as evidence that I was jealous & trying to destroy the company I created. Virtually all those I was trying to protect turned against me. So I know how lonely you are feeling Robin.

      It cost me roughly $20M & all my relationships, but I cannot stop people from believing lies. Sometimes the truth is too unbelievable & it’s easier to believe the lie.

      In 2008, all the employees were laid off (a “cost -cutting” measure ). He moved to another province & fooled the people there into making him the president of a Rotary Club. In the meantime, shareholders don’t know he’s gone & have been waiting since 2008 for their next AGM. (Talk about willful blindness.)

      Hang in there Robin. You’re not alone. If you do not buy into the lies, you will be persecuted by those who do. It has to do with Confirmation Bias & Primacy Effect. Forgive them & move on.

      1. I absolutely believe you Milt. I have seen this in the workforce a lot. To me, weak people are threatened by hard working, competent people. Weak people are ALWAYS networkers and will work to bring a strong person down and to steal credit for their work. There ARE people around in this situation who actually see the truth but they are the ones who stay neutral for survival. The weak people stick together to win and will live in denial if required. I mean look at the Catholic church – have you ever seen any organisation where the evidence is screaming at them – but they stay and pretend that everything is fine. I have often wondered if there is ever a price weak people pay but to be honest there doesn’t seem to be; they kill the strong ones and march up the ladder every time protecting each other all the way.

    6. Yes, Dr Simon, it a similar situation like this that brought this site to my attention. How do you move on, and do you have to move away from such people as there is absolutely no way anybody can remain in a healthy or manageable relationship with people with such collection of disorders, and one has to “let go” at some point as the aggressor will only escalate his efforts over time….as is the pattern with me…


    Different ways sadism can appear, according to Theodore Millon. Of course, some of these still have an inkling of that so-called neurotic misattribution. I think neurotic sadist would be very rare and no less dangerous. If I can imagine a sadist being “neurotic”, anxious or insecure about something, it would be getting to impose their power over others and demonstrate their unshakable, unhumbling dominant stance that no one will challenge.

    My thoughts. I’m no psychology professional or anything. I simply hope to think of this from other possible angles, so we have even deeper a sense of what makes them tick, thus spot their patterns even faster and thus be able to avoid their agonizing twisted power rituals.

      1. Thank you, Dr Simon. Some people tend to think: “S/he’s got poor self-esteem, that needs to be fixed and he’s well again.” Except no. Sadistic personality is structured in a sick way. For comparison, a neurotic person, even though he experiences anxiety, has a personality structured in a way that leads them to act in socially conscientious way.

        What do I make of this? If someone is prone to anxiety over a variety of situations more than a person could be reasonably expected to be, it’s just one part of their personality structure. Sure, it can influence them for worse. A “neurotic” sadist or a “neurotic” dominance-seeker still have severe combative tendencies, which influence the slightest waves of their thinking. As a bonus, anxiety along it helps create a nasty cocktail of a harmful interpersonal style.

        That doesn’t mean dominance-seeking or predatory aggression would be rooted in or based on anxiety and defending. Aggression doesn’t emerge out of those. In these examples I mention, anxiety is one part of their structure influencing their behavior.

        This is simply my contemplations. I hope this manages to help clear the old neurosis-based myths even further. If you find this useful, you are completely free to use it, Dr Simon. 🙂

  20. I finally after 10 long years of marriage got away from this personality. Thank you for identifying it as I thought I was crazy. I had such a hard mental struggle reconciling my husband telling me that he enjoyed hurting me but would defend me against others. I was so confused when I would see him turn on and off the rage like a switch which is why the cops always dismissed me when I needed help. He was so angry at me for not hurting him and tried to provoke me at every turn. If I raised up to defend myself he would become more enraged and make me pay for it somehow, whether trough an affair, verbal abuse, insults, physical abuse, or sexual humiliation. Don’t know if you encountered the direct provocation behaviors but they really left me so confused because I wanted to be a good wife. I cannot accept everything that happened and still feel like I did something wrong. All I know is that being with him made me suicidal, confused, depressed, question my sanity, lose hope in love and accept defeat. Even my friends telling me that they expected me dead by the end of the year (and it almost coming true) didn’t open my eyes. On the victim side of things, I was so beaten down, apathetic was a goal. I was used to the pain and wanted it to stop but it was like trying to run in a dream…strength eluded me.

    1. To add to my post after reading others – nothing works. Just get out. I am so glad I did and am my happy self again. My goal now is to stop blaming myself, stop denying what happened, stop trying to forgive him, and preventing my kind heart from ever being suckered into a torture den of manipulation again. I walked away my same sweet self, even if a bit bruised. He has a life sentence – he has to be himself and cannot get away.

    2. It’s frightening there are these people, who just desire to “emerge a victor” by breaking others down. Bullies of the worst sort.

      You made it out. That’s what’s important. You survived. Time to recover. Afraid I can’t offer more inspirational words, because I haven’t run to people as horrid as what you describe. Still, it’s great you’re on the road to recovery.

    3. Another post of its own inspired by yours, Eel. You say he has a life sentence of being himself. Indeed. People like that are stunted emotionally. I guess one could say they get fulfilled from their power games. That’s pretty much what they narrow down to. They don’t appreciate that there are other more constructive ways to feel fulfilled.

      For example, thinking of a purpose of life that resonates deep inside or indeed living with deeply rooted faith as Dr Simon describes in Judas Syndrome, those are acts of submission. Growing up emotionally is submission. Hearing another person, real intimacy, is submission. Truly listening to what others have to say submission.

      What about opening up to others? If disturbed characters opened up to others, I think they’d simply show all the ugliness, the malevolent ruthlessness they harbor inside. It is a natural part of their personality, after all. So I think disturbed characters wouldn’t think of opening up as submission. Any thoughts?

      1. I agree. I think the only time they open up is when it suits a manipulative purpose. My ex used to show his underbelly for the sole purpose of getting me to show mine so he could gather more information to use against me later. He wanted me to grovel and beg for forgiveness when it was he who had done something wrong. When he opened up he never felt weak after because I don’t think he minded the ugly. He would share something horrible and almost roll in it like catnip. If I shared something ugly it was with regret and remorse, not joy. If he opened up he did so not only for me to open up and be an easier victim, but also to garnish my sympathy and to show me how much stronger and better he is. I will never forget the solid week rant where every night I came home (after throwing up on the way home) he followed me throughout the house telling me exactly everything that was wrong with me and how I was a failure at everything. It would last into the early hours and long past when I had literally ran out of tears. Yet, I took the words in and tried to find ways to be better.

  21. This personality type of the sadistic aggressor is a master at brainwashing. I have an IQ in the 130’s, five degrees and what I would consider a strong personality. Not the classic weak victim. But alas I am also a typical neurotic who wants so bad to be perfect for others and tries so hard to meet my own high standards. I care so much about others I lose track of the fact there are so many sadists out there. This website has done more for me in helping me accept and heal than you will ever know. I needed to hear that they do know what they are doing and understanding that the part in me that made me stay that I hate is where my forgiveness is needed. I did not stay because I was weak or stupid…I stayed because I am vulnerable to these types because of my huge heart, strong conscience and desire to please. All great trots in the ought hands.

  22. Meant “all great traits in the right hands” but autocorrect got me. Just one last post…
    To this day I “want” to accept the blame from him that everything was my fault and that I was the abuser despite all logic and fact. This is weight on my shoulders I need to find a way to release. I do not want to look at myself for fault because I did nothing wrong. It is amazing to me that I still feel guilty for hurting him by leaving when I left after he tried to kill my friend who was defending me after she saw me injured. He convinced me none of that really happened and that i was in the wrong…and I still struggle with accepting the truth, even though I know it and my friend reminds me.

    I am happy now but would love to find a way to not question that reality. I want to get all the emotions out but I cannot. Every time I start to I experience tremendous guilt and doubt that what I know to be true is. I immediately turn inward and try to examine what I did wrong, etc. as I want to be a good person.

  23. Demeaning as a Lifestyle: The Sadistic Aggressive

    I very good read and better understanding with dealing and I should say meeting this type of dysfunctional and toxic person(s)

    I also agree with your analogy Dr. Simon of the “bully”. Someone whom we all encounter as school children. There was in fact always someone whom was ether a victim or a witness during their early school years. In fact bulling is almost expected in our current traditional education system and are in fact problems known by our Board of Education as well as concerned caretakers. Some rules have been enforced to curb this type of behavior in schools but more is needed in education of this type of behavior and how to deal with it more effectively both for the abuser and victim.

    These types of toxic sadistic aggressors do come with some red flags that people can and do pick up on if they know about them. Again education seems to be the key to dealing with an sadistic aggressor. or any type of personality disorder. If He/She would believe or imagine someone weaker or in someway able to be manipulated by them and then through this revulsion or dislike of someone would targeted them as possible victims. While most believe of themselves to be able to deal with them, still more education would assist people in knowing how the intended victim own self-esteem boundaries and social expectation of behavior come into play with dealing with a toxic person.

    Having personal come into contact with one (haven we all?). I found the best way to deal with one is to know ones self better and be able to stand your ground. I have found myself ether laughing at them or ready and able to stand at the bitter end. I believe knowing one self and loving one self helps you to in fact deal better then “the bully”.

  24. A very insightful article, thank you. I had the misfortune of being brought up by a sadistic aggressive mother. I remember many terrible things and I also discovered later that the scars all over me that my mother blamed me for (she said I had chicken pox as a baby and I scratched the sores causing them to look the way they do)were actually cigarette burns. This was brought to my attention by a doctor, a priest and then I had it confirmed by a skin specialist and forensic policeman. It took a long long time for me to put things together though. I remember worse things believe it or not. My mother would also use anyone else she could to also abuse myself and my brothers. My brother has burn marks across both the backs of his hands where my mother burnt him with an iron. She always told us he did it to himself by pulling the iron down on himself as a baby. I ran the exact circumstances past the forensics policeman and he said that the injury did not link up with my mother’s explanation; he said it was absolutely impossible.

    She is old now and every bit as nasty, manipulative and sadistic as she has ever been. She takes responsibility for nothing at all. She hates everyone including herself but has no insight into herself and she never grows. She is also completely incapable of love. She is so manipulative though she still manages to fool some people. Growing up with her was a terrifying experience and one that I will never fully recover from.

    Also I met a woman at a workshop one time. She was the leader and it was about growing up in abusive homes. I told her that there was no history of my mother having been abused at all and her brother and sisters were normal. This woman had such a strong reaction to my saying that some people who are sadistic are not abused. She ridiculed me and stirred up trouble against me within the group. She vehemently denied that anyone who abused children had ever not been abused themselves. From other things she said about herself I strongly believe that she was an abuser herself.

    It’s interesting that with such people, they never, ever, ever admit to any bad behaviour. Also with my mother, the most frightening thing is how much she CLEARLY enjoys hurting other people both physically and emotionally and destroying any belief they have in themselves. Truly she is the most evil person I have ever met. However I have been on other sites and seen stories where other people have been brought up with monsters like this. Strangely my brothers and I still look after her. Two brothers have not yet seen who she really is even though they suffered at her hand – they have lived far away from her though for many years.

    My journey has been about healing and self love which took a long time to begin because I didn’t know how damaged I was.

  25. And I must add, my mother is 100% conscious of everything she does. I have questioned her sanity however in psychiatry there is a saying ‘are they mad or are they bad or are they both’. My mother is simply bad. It is evil decision after evil decision driven by an all-consuming desire to dominate other people. Manipulation is a very calculated behaviour and you have to be very present and in control to do that.

    1. Elizabeth………..Your mother sounds so bad that she could be considered “mad”. It seems that she has not connection to the part of a human being that could give her a chance to be any different than she is. What a horrible person to be in charge of raising children. Outrageous. How could a man even stay with such a person long enough to impregnate them?? I’m sorry to hear you suffered so…….
      I do believe that some people can be manipulative without being “”aware”” that they are being truly manipulative. I see it in myself……….at the end of my rope and desperate my behavior sometimes could be considered manipulative though there is no conscious intention to manipulate and certainly no malevolent intention. More just clueless or inept enough to be able to do or say something which would be healthier.

  26. Thanks Puddle. Yes certainly she is very paranoid. It’s funny that she is because she is the scariest person around. I’m sure my mother thinks she behaves that way because she is ‘at the end of her rope and desperate’. Being ‘unconscious’ of one’s behaviour is a very convenient way to avoid taking responsibility for the position we are in. I had a very warped understanding of responsibility for loving myself for most of my life. Loving yourself means MOVING AWAY FROM ABUSE AND NEGATIVE SITUATIONS. As a baby and child, I could not move away from abuse, I just had to watch. I remember as a tiny child thinking ‘if you just wait long enough, it will stop’. It took me forever to understand what loving myself meant. I had NO concept of self love. I THOUGHT I loved myself and I could recognise major abuse at least (although abuse I took as a normal part of life and of course, it isn’t). But loving myself means taking myself OUT of situation where I would grow to be ‘at the end of my rope and desperate’. No child deserves abuse by an adult no matter what the circumstances. Unless a person is psychotic, you are 100% responsible for your behaviour. Seek help in every way you can until you can live a life in peace.

  27. Elizabeth , any bad relationship I’ve ever been in, parents, romantic, and now this Spathtard…..they all had elements of things that were also highly desireable to me as well so I got stuck not able to make the cut and dry determination. Like basically I need hit over the head to figure it out. I just couldn’t figure it out. Seems as if I’m still trying to understand.

    Funny thing is…..when I look at my relationships with healthy people, I am not manipulative. EVER!

  28. Puddle, if you have to manipulate someone, they aren’t really who you want to be with. The twelve step programs are good in that they teach you that you cannot control anyone, only yourself. I just don’t get into bad relationships anymore because I now know what it means to love myself and I have strong boundaries. Oh how I wish I knew how to do this many years ago. Still, as someone once said to me, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. You learn when you learn and with serious abuse, especially from very young, it’s a long, slow awakening.

    1. Elizabeth…..thank you for your words of wisdom. Thats the thing,,,,,,when I say that my behavior was manipulative…please don’t get me wrong. It would look like manipulative behavior but it was basically not intended to manipulate in the true sense of the word by any means. In my opinion it was more based on total confusion and just not understanding and expecting something to be one way (the way the person had portrayed it to be) but it being something else……some of the time but not all of the time. I wasn’t trying to “control” them (in the true sense of the word)…….it’s hard to explain. I just can’t find the words, sorry if I’m not being clear. I know what you are saying though. Ive said good bye to people in my past who were not good for me. I had that ability going into the relationshi* with this person who I now see abused me. But I had never encountered someone like this….that’s the thing, I was tricked and manipulated and I couldn’t make sense of any of it in the moment and still can’t for the most part.
      With my mother I was caught up in a long standing dynamic and finally with the help of therapy was able to see that is was damaging to both of us and I drew a line in the sand. This guy trumped what I had been through with ANYONE by miles. I see it kind of like an animal who is used to danger coming from a predator on foot but all of a sudden along comes a hawk.
      You sound very wise Elizabeth and like you have learned many lessons.

  29. Thanks Puddle. Yes I’ve learnt and studied but it has taken a long time. With respect to anyone trumping everyone you’ve know in the manipulation stakes, this simply won’t happen when you truly love yourself and have strong boundaries. That can be based on a faith in God or just a decision not to let yourself be abused anymore. You have to have enough before you get it. With me, my ‘enough’ was enormous. Don’t let that happen to you.

  30. Elizabeth…….this was enormous >>for me<<. I get very easily confused and lack for words in the moment….
    I've never wanted to be with someone more than I wanted to be with him. Nothing even remotely similar. I swallowed the bait hook line and sinker. Never again. I didn't even have a clue that I could feel this much pain and I didn't have a clue than someone could be this big of a POS.

    1. Hi Puddle. I’ve noticed that children who were abused are often alone i.e. without a relationship. I think it takes a long, long, long, long, long time to heal. We need it though because if you keep going from one abusive relationship to another, you never deal with the cause. You never have time to get to know yourself, to heal and learn to love yourself. I was told that loving yourself is the most wonderful love you will ever experience. I thought it sounded most unsatisfying and I wanted the love of someone else but that was just trying to find the love I never received as a child. I found that it was true – when you learn to love yourself, it is the most wonderful place and experience in the world and you will recognise abusers and never let them near you. You will develop healthy boundaries. You DO recognise abusers, they scream at you and there are flashing red lights if you know what I mean – but we ignore them, hoping that if we just love them enough, everything will be different this time. If you blame yourself then that will give you the one point of control and you will be able to fix it – by being good enough, loving enough – but that is an illusion because it isn’t your fault and neither was an abusive childhood. ‘I get confused and it really isn’t my fault’ is just the state of not taking responsibility for loving yourself, of continuing to choose the powerlessness of your childhood. A big change for me came when I went to a spiritual counsellor who told me to do an exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. You say your full maiden name and then say ‘I love you unconditionally’. It feels awful first of all because loving ourselves is foreign. You don’t have to believe it, just say it, over and over and over and slowly something changes in you. Search, search, search for a way, not to change HIM but to love and nuture and support yourself. You can heal in a way that you would never be able to conceive at the beginning and it just gets better and better.

  31. Elizabeth, Here’s a weird question for you!! I’m not even sure what name to use! My birth name was L.A.K. my adopted name was S.D.J. Technically I was “abused” before I was ever born because of the toxins in my bio mom’s womb! She was a severe alcoholic and I am lucky to not be in worse shape then I turned out to be but have been diagnosed with FAS….Fetal Alcohol Syndrome….actually PFAS, Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She was quite the partier. When she was pregnant with my older bio sister she got arrested and lived with a cop and his family till my sister was born and adopted by the cop’s best friend and his wife. The cop kept her off the street and away from alcohol and my sister doesn’t have any of the problems I do.
    Anyhow,,,,I was adopted into a family situation that was very dysfunctional. Not “”BAD”” people, not criminals or severe addicts but pretty strong alcohol influence on my adopted father’s side and my mother was an only child, perfectionist and social wanna-be. It was not, not, not good. SO mush more to the whole story.
    My point is I don’t know how to heal or fix what’s broken. I don’t even know what’s broken anymore. I’ve been in counseling off and on for about 25 years and every person I’ve ever seen has asked me if I was ever sexually abused as a child……I have ALL the signs. I have zero memory of anything regarding sexual abuse except for a covert form of it, indirectly, with my father. And my mother used to parade me around in front of my father in a bathing suit as a young teenager, I’m assuming she was trying to get him aroused. She had told me that they had no sexual relationship for a very long time. My adopted brother, 2 1/2 years younger than me, was/ is a clear cut sociopath and that is a whole other ball of yarn.
    Anyhow, This guy’s abuse was so frigging covert >>most of the time<<, he did what he did so frigging well, that I'm still trying to sort it out. Normally? I don't put up with overt crappy treatment from people. I've always tried my best to stand up for myself and fought against my mother most of my childhood as best I could under her roof. Once I was 18…..I was out the door, never to return. I don't mean that I cut them out of my life by any means. But I really have always spoken up for myself…'s been something that as an adult I've had to learn to do in a more diplomatic and healthy way but I really have always been strong in that area.
    I will say that when I was drinking,,,,,I was putty in a man's presence. So hard to describe all of this. I know, know, know that I was touch starved and still am. Of course, guess what the X Spath zeroed in on! That's how I know that he HAD to be a PPath…….I've NEVER before had someone make such a point out of holding me than he did. Amazing. Being held is like crack cocaine for me and he never missed an opportunity.

    1. Hi Puddle. I don’t think you start sorting things out until you are away from an abusive situation so if you’re still in your relationship or just out of it, you have to put all your resources into coping with THAT relationship. As you say, you crave attention so you find it hard to get the space you need to process anything. Also, for some odd reason, processing doesn’t begin until the late forties and fifties – according to studies in this area.

      It’s very hard to ‘grow’ or to process anything when you are emotionally dependent on other people. You think you are doing things for other people but really you are manipulating them so that they will look after you. You have to get to the stage where you are loving and looking after yourself and that just takes a long, long time. I imagine there are many people who just don’t ever get that far because you can’t SEE you are emotionally dependent. You can’t see how damaged you are and you are processing things.

      You have a very interesting and complex story. The ultimate end result would be your freedom to be yourself. As I keep saying, it just takes such a long time especially when you were indeed, abused from even the time before you were born. You can do it though. You just have to want authenticity.

      1. Elizabeth….thanks for replies! I am 54 and I’m out of the relationship 100% since May/ no contact except a run in in public which was brief. No conversation but it was ugly tho brief.
        Regarding attention……it’s not attention I crave, but physical contact. I’m pretty comfortable by myself and spend a huge amount of my time by myself. In fact, that may have been how he managed to do what he did……he was ALWAYS here with me if not at work and I do need way more alone time to process life than some people. Mental down time. With him, I would just be wrapping up my day’s activities and he would get off work and be here just about the time that I, by myself, start shutting down mentally. What a mess.
        When I was a partier, I was usually with someone but more as a drinking buddy. Once I drank enough, it would usually turn sexual. When i drink I listen to music and when I drink and listen to music, i kiss. I would be perfectly happy just drinking and listening to music and kissing but most men don’t want it to stop there and under the influence of alcohol I can’t stick up for myself…..don’t say no. I’ve been date raped countless times in my dark drinking past. But that is over for me. No more drinking and like i said, i’m very comfortable alone EXCEPT that I do crave physical touch and I think that in my a Achilles heel and the vulnerability that he zeroed right in on.

        I do see what you are saying Elizabeth and I am not really sure that I am as you describe as far as emotionally dependent. I do spend an extraordinary amour of time alone and I do miss his companionship……i miss being a couple, doing things together, etc but do i NEED that? Maybe on one level but I don’t seek it out. I haven’t looked for a replacement for him,,,,,haven’t been on one date since we broke up last Christmas. It’s just too much to explain I guess. I wish there were groups for people who have been through this stuff. I read as much as I can but something about my experience with him/ it/ Spathx seems different. I can’t put my finger on it though.

        1. Well there is Alcoholics Anonymous and it does seem to be the basis of both the abuse by your mother and you abusing yourself. Alcoholism is an overwhelming need. It is something that produces feelings of not having enough and not just of alcohol but often food, sex and so on – it doesn’t stop at alcohol. I love an AA saying ‘Religion is for people who afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who’ve already been there’.

          So perhaps that could be a place for you to start loving yourself. I know it sounds silly because someone who doesn’t love themselves will not love themselves, they want it from outside but the outside love will never heal and satisfy the way you loving you does. Perhaps massage yourself with oil, soak your feet, nurture yourself and search, search, search for what it means to love yourself. Say your full maiden name and ‘I love you unconditionally. These things seem to simple but they work; slowly, slowly they will work. It is actually, in an odd way, YOU that you are searching for.

          Just as an aside, I have a pet theory that caffeine is the driver for all other addictions. It is a dangerous drug that causes anxiety, depression and thought and sleep disorders. I have met alcoholics that will give up alcohol but NEVER caffeine. Caffeine upsets the body very much and puts it into this space where it is unable to be at rest, unable to be satisfied.

          You said you haven’t worked your own stuff out yet but you will. We all need to be in the space we are in. You can’t be somewhere where you’re not. You are in a good space now and making progress. You are no longer in an abusive relationship and your are no longer abusing yourself with alcohol. You can’t see yourself moving towards healing but you are. Have you read any of Melanie Beattie’s books. I found them very helpful. One of her quotes is ‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow’. She is a great one for allowing yourself to be exactly where you are. Trusting that where you are is part of the process; allowing yourself just to be.

  32. Puddle – I just read part of a post you made in another spot and it was this: ‘If I had done to someone what this POS did to me? I’d expect someone to have harsh feelings and words towards me. Of course I would be ashamed if I ever treated someone the way he treated me’. But you HAVE treated someone the way he treated you because it was you who allowed him to treat you that way. You might be angry at me for saying this but this is the very place your power will come from i.e. from examining who is really allowing you to be abused. We continue to treat ourselves the way we were treated when we were young. You ‘allowed’ him to treat you that way because you have no concept that you have a choice – you it is a choice you are making. This is a concept I took forever to grasp but that is the very crux of your suffering and of mine. If you love yourself and have strong boundaries, no such relationship would be permitted to exist. Sometimes that means we don’t have a relationship. Well that’s part of taking control. For abused children, loving yourself is such a foreign concept you can’t even grab a hold of it. Remember loving yourself means MOVING AWAY FROM WHAT IS CAUSING THE PAIN.

  33. Elizabeth…….I appreciate what you are offering, you sound very wise and wise from experience. Here is the situation I was in…….It was not black and white abusive and there were MANY things about it that felt very good to me and that I valued about him and the relationship. I now know that it was all BS. Once I REALLY knew, to the best of what I have been able to determine, that it was abusive, predatory, manipulative, parasitic, and on and on and on………..THAT is when I cut it loose in my heart. I do love myself enough to not allow myself to be abused and with out someone actually being in my shoes, it’s very hard if not impossible for ANYone to understand just how covert and hidden his abusive game was to me.
    I am certainly not perfect and have my own issues which was a huge reason I stayed with him. I loved him Elizabeth. He made me very happy in many ways and the slow and agonizing realization that the person I loved was a fake and an illusion created to trick me for God only knows what his ultimate reward was, is the most agonizing, heart breaking pain I have ever felt. This was something I have never even been close to experiencing. If I had KNOWN what he was doing I would have kicked his a** to the curb a very long time before this actually ended. I was totally unaware of what the potential outcome would be.
    I’ll write more later!! time for dinner. 🙂
    Thanks again Elizabeth, ((( warm hug ))) to you!

    1. Puddle – it’s not about knowing what HE is doing, it’s about knowing what YOU are doing.

      I do understand ‘covert’. Nobody ever knowingly gets involved with an abusive person but trust me there are signs and they are like big red flashing lights and you can recognise them when you have boundaries and when you’ve been there before. All abusers are covert in their operations. They are experts at causing pain and blaming others. In that ‘life experience’ department, yeah I have a few doctorates believe me. But when we are damaged, we are also experts and extricating ourselves from the experiences, healing and taking responsibility for how difficult WE are to live with, takes time. Some people refuse to take any responsibility, ever – even though their actions scream disfunction. They are the really sick ones but they are always pointing the finger at someone else.

      Getting away from situations that make you unhappy, deciding on your boundaries (for me I simply decided to live by God’s golden rule – no sex before marriage – you’d be amazed at how fast this gets rid of the users and shows their true colours) and taking responsibility for your own circumstances, happiness, financial security etc is the answer you are looking for. The next time you say ‘I don’t know what to do’, ‘I’m still looking for the answer’, THAT is what to do, THAT is the answer.

      1. Elizabeth……I think the crux of the matter >>for me<< was that I didn't know…..I didn't know what i know now. MY mind just could not conceive and is still having a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact that someone is capable of what these types are capable of. If it would have been all bad I would have ended it. I've ended bad relationships in the past! It wasn't. I was in love and the relationship had value to me. It brought me great joy to have someone I cared about and had fun with in my life and a lot of it did make me happy……very happy. I assumed that SOMEthing was wrong that could be worked through. I knew that no one was perfect and no relationship was perfect and that I WASN'T perfect. That was MY perspective and reality base. That is where my heart was and where i was coming from and I literally could not conceive that he would be with me, stay in the relationship, say the things he said about the way he felt about me, spend as much time as he spent with me……on and on and on……I could not conceive that someone would or COULD do and say all that and more and mean none of it. It goes way beyond even being naive! It's something more indescribable than naive.
        Yes,,,,,from this experience, aka nightmare, I have learned a few very important things that apply to myself and life even more now that I'm sober and in a new chapter of my life. The biggest one being absolutely no sex before it's warranted. At the age of 54, with all my drinking and consequential self prostitution for physical (not sexual) contact and affection behind me, that shouldn't be a problem. I hope anyhow. I do have a problem "in the moment" with words. Thoughts, words, decisions, feelings, tend to merge into one muddled up mess in my mind. Things just spin like tires on a greasy road. I feel backed into a corner like a trapped animal. I stop breathing…'s weird.
        Add alcohol to a situation like that and in my opinion it's date rape. As I'm trying to find the words to match the thoughts and coming up empty the thoughts start merging together and the words can't keep up. So many things like this are very hard for me to put into words even just sitting here quietly alone typing them, let alone trying to SAY them to someone in the moment.
        As far as taking responsibility, I am more than willing to take responsibility for my shortcomings to the best of my ability. I have learned that what may sound or seem like an excuse to some people may be a serious roadblock to another person, one that may or may not be able to be overcome. Sometimes it feels and seems like life's lessons come so fast and furious that it's hard to hold on to them long enough to learn them enough to not repeat them. Kind of like being at a party with a lot of people you don't know and you keep getting introduced to more and more people…..eventually the names all blend together and I'd be lucky to remember one of them!!
        I DID see red flags a plenty but as I said…..because I had never been through something like this before, I certainly had no clue that the red flags meant that the guy is a psychopath! red flags never meant that in my past. They just meant that someone has some issues so you better buy some tissues. Being a party girl supreme, people with issues are a dime a dozen! I have issues, they have issues,,,,,,everyone has issues! Even my sober friends have issues! Name one person who doesn't! Well, out of all the people I have known in my past, with all their issues,,,,,,not one of them is a psychopath! My brother is a sociopath and even HE isn't a psychopath! I'm sure Dr. Simon would have a field day with him but he is not a predatory spath. In need of help he will probably never get, sure. Still…..not a predator and not at all sadistic and I really don't see any signs of him being a game player either. no, if what I'm afraid is true about the Spathx is really true, and it seems as if it is,,,,,,,,he's a one of a kind in my life anyhow. First encounter and I certainly hope to be the last.

        1. Puddles, you have put into words what I have been trying to articulate. I would have liked to think I had a foolproof system of spotting red flags but these disordered people put on the mask of normal people with issues and it’s devilishly difficult to tell them apart until we’ve invested in a relationship and then it’s, “That little problem? Oh, we’ll work around it”. I’m trying to say that my ex’s first act of cutting me down was calculated carefully to be so small it didn’t seem worth it to give up my investment in him. It was small. He ramped it up according to the degree of control he thought he had over me. Then, one day, I had enough and wondered how it got so bad and how did I put up with it and beat myself up thinking I should have been able to predict it and get out earlier.

          I believe it is not natural for people to spend time with people who hurt them. Anything that forces us to remain in close quarters with someone who hurts us is an abusive person or abusive system. When I can’t get away or I can’t see the way out, I coped in ways that were condescendingly called “co-dependent”. I think it is a disgusting label that assumes I have equal personal, economic and social standing with an abuser. It erases the cage.

          I suffered long years hoping and sometimes believing my marriage was not that bad, and he dragged me down with him until I could not go on and the lights came on in my head and I got out after a long and hard time preparing for it and hoping he would not discover it until I could get free.

          There’s no way I would have known on our dates that he was anything but normal. That is so sad.

          I was thinking about red flags. A man who truly loved my friend once told everyone he wasted a whole two years of his life with her. That was a red flag eh? He lied. I’d far rather have a man like that than the men who said they loved me and lied. If I were her, I would have a devil of a time sorting out what love was and wasn’t after an experience like that.

          I would forget all about “red flags” and pay careful attention to my feelings around that person and act on those and not even worry about labelling or justifying. Thus, if someone says, “Don’t be hard on X, he’s a nice guy when sober”, it won’t undermine my natural revulsion.

  34. Today I’ve stumbled on your videos and have been reading the articles on your blogs, they are so informative and at the same time confronting for me. As I read this particular one I recognise my husband. It scares me but I’ve been scared for a long time.
    I feel your example of the business man fits him, he has been violent on many occasions. Yet what really confuses me is the lengthy good times though can admit minor incidents. He helps with housework, he has stable employment, loves animals loves his son and his family and it seems genuine. He comes from a very loving family, indeed I love his family very much. Even times with me his love appears genuine. He gives compliments. Most friends and people think he’s a wonderful, caring man and think I am so lucky. It’s hard to believe that he could be this sadistic aggressive. I am the only one he hurts physically and emotionally.
    For a while I thought it was drinking problems which caused this violence toward me I now realise it’s not so. I am terrified of the fall out if I leave but after reading all I’ve read and listened to your videos and even before that I know I can’t control what will happen or what he does. The violence may well escalate, he might come after me he might not I don’t know. It may well be he’s pushing me out the door because he doesn’t want to look like the bad person I’ve consider that. He says all the right things he wants to change, will seek counselling, knows he has a violence problem will work on it and that I am not to blame but in the same breath blames me…I put so much pressure on him because I won’t believe him when he tells me he loves me. I know that it is his choice to hurt me. I can picture my life without him and it looks good but why when I know all this do I feel so damn sorry for him? For some stupid reason the thought of him all alone upsets me?
    I am intending to get a copy of your book In sheep’s clothing, so I can learn more. I thank you for such an informative articles and videos it helps give such clarity to this person I have been living with.

  35. Hi Tori. Sorry to read of your dilemma. From my reading, your husband clearly seems to have feelings of fondness towards you however this takes 2nd place to his own darker feelings that he is unable, or perhaps even unwilling, to bring under proper control. Does his violent tendencies and actions bother him? Or is he comfortable doing this in the secret world behind closed doors? Has your son witnessed the violent episodes? Please forgive the questions if you are uncomfortable answering. Either way, to live in an almost daily environment of fear and scare tactics is awful.

    I have been married for almost 30 years. It has been through coming into contact with this website (the best imv with some extremely intelligent contributors) and others similar that has provided me much needed clarity in trying to understand and/or make sense of my wife’s behaviour. What I thought was erratic behaviour, I have since come to learn is the classic actions consistent with a manipulative type character. Straight away, I felt as though the fog had been lifted from me. I had clarity, which is a wonderful feeling. Whilst I can do little to stop the bad behaviour, by which I mean the gaslighting, lying, CA behaviour, anger/rage, face pulling, blaming, mocking, ridiculing, excusing….almost on a daily basis, I have learned some invaluable lessons focusing on ME, how to change ME, such as (a) openly calling her manipulative behaviour, (b) refusing to be spoken down to – as if I am some kind of lower order species, what I will term the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ type mentality (c) learn to love myself and no longer live under the tyranny of guilt (“it was your fault” or “you owe me” are common terms she wold use – note she is using them less and less now because I have told her reviling ways have no power over me any longer) that she had become so skilled at making me feel over the years. Life is now much better, even though the problem has not gone away.

    I came to learn that I was enabling her behaviour, however no longer. I now feel more under control than I have ever been and it is a good place to be.

  36. I am presently unsure whether my wife had been abused as a child – she has never been an openly communicative type person. Yes, she will ask all manner of personal questions about you, however will seldom return the compliment. I have come to realise this was part of her manipulative behaviour. Once she knows something ‘juicy’ about you, it is locked away and stored for manipulative use some time later. Personal details about me have, on several occasions, been openly revealed in front of an audience, to deliberately humiliate, induce guilt, justify her own actions and bad behaviour. She is without doubt a sociopath.

    I have since come to realise her mother exhibits very similar patterns of behaviour (in managing/negotiating her own issues in life), to the extent this type of interaction has over time become the accepted way of dealing with each other, within their family circle. I am now pushing back…..and have made a pact with myself that I will not stop, come what may.

    Another poster upthread (Elizabeth) said if you love yourself and have such boundaries, such relationship would be permitted to exist. I think she is entirely right! It’s about taking back some control that rightfully belongs to ME.

    1. Danny…….My ex……he wouldn’t really talk about his past AT ALL and he didn’t seem to care to ask about mine either. I’m a chatter box so I’m always talking about something and thinking about something and talking about what I’m thinking and I have a very curious investigative mind. But he just wasn’t “there”. Weird.

  37. Correction…..which should read……

    Another poster upthread (Elizabeth) said if you love yourself and have such boundaries, such relationship would NOT be permitted to exist. I think she is entirely right! It’s about taking back some control that rightfully belongs to ME.

    1. Hi Danny…….I agree with and disagree with Elizabeth’s comment. I think what she is saying is true in normal every day interactions but does not apply in highly COVERT manipulation. I didn’t even realize what the truth about him was until I was 5 months out of the mess. I couldn’t prove anything for the most part and there certainly were times that i was happier in the relationshi* than I have ever been. So crushing that those times were all an illusion. Mind boggling.
      Covert, aggressive manipulation is so insidious……it attacks and weakens the victim on so many levels, like a systemic immune disorder……

      1. Hi Puddle. Yes I would agree with you too. I think what Elizabeth may well have been saying is ‘upon realisation of…..’ . Of course, the more covert the manipulation and aggression, the more difficult it is to spot and perhaps the longer it will take to discover. So I’m not surprised to read of your personal experience. Certainly in my case, it took a very long time and a lot of personal research on my behalf to make sense of what I had previously understood to be extremely wild and erratic behaviour. I couldn’t have been more wrong once I discovered the established patterns of behaviour that were being directed predominantly towards me but also overspilling towards other family members. It was about the need to win or be victorious at all costs. As you rightly say, CA behaviour, especially from those at the more extreme end of the spectrum, is horribly insidious as well as disabling.

        1. I so glad for you Danny that you found Dr. Simon’s web site. I can’t imagine what people used to do without access to this information in the past but I don’t have to imaging. There are plenty of stories about people who have been driven to Suicide but the mental and emotional turmoil that being involved with these people can create. I have posted some links about cognitive dissonance that I hope are helpful.
          I compare it to what happen to a piece of metal when it is bent back and forth and back and forth……..eventually it can break. different metals (minds) can take more and some less. I think the term is called “work hardening” and jewelers use it. Sometimes the use it to strengthen the metal they are working with but if it’s done incorrectly the metal will break.

  38. Hi Danny, I don’t mind your questions… right now I am very confused. I’ve left the house living with my son which is stressful in itself. He wants me to leave him and I just want to stand firm and be home with my son though not with my husband the way he is. My husband displays remorse, even cries after he is violent but only after I threaten to leave, before that he almost seems proud of himself. My son has witnessed his violence when younger now he’s mostly in his room. I don’t know if I’ve made matters worse by leaving but gosh he’s been away working and with all this hanging over my head it’s been hell. The way he talks to me on the phone is almost hateful and anger fuelled that how dare I kick him out of his house. Which I didn’t I asked him to leave so we could sort it out…he chose to work away. That’s made things worse and drawn out so that I am so scared and emotionally drained. He still blames me and say’s I don’t listen, understand or trust him. How can I? Right now I want to go back home with my son and hope my husband will stay away until we sort things out one way or another… I don’t know everything is so crazy right now. I’ve been reading Dr Simon’s two books I bought them and they have opened my eyes, yet I still love this man and this whole thing tears my heart open. I’m devastated emotionally, mentally and physically. My son just wants peace too!

    1. Hi Tori. Once again, I’m very sorry to hear you are going through so much pain. Either way, the great thing is that you are in the best place (here in this forum) as there are plenty of posters, most of whom are much more qualified than am I, who will give you the support and advice that it seems to me you need.

      I’m not sure whether I fully understood your present domestic arrangements, which seems to read that your husband has left the home temporarily, leaving you and you son, as he is also away working while away from the home. Assuming that to be the case, might I politely suggest……(a) give some thought as to whether your husband should be allowed to speak so abusively to you while on the phone. This website has some great suggestions on how to respond to CA’s that I recommend could be employed by you. Also (b) if, as you say, he cries after violence, perhaps that might be the cue for you to talk openly and honestly and firmly about how his actions make you feel, then ask him what HE is prepared to do about HIS violence towards you – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I do not disrespect you for loving him – he is after all your husband – however he has to realise he is 100% accountable for his bad behaviour (both verbal and physical abuse) towards you. If he is unwilling to accept responsibility, then you have some difficult but equally necessary decisions to make regarding your future welfare and happiness. Finally (c) personally I do not do threats. If I threaten to do something, I will usually carry it through. So I would recommend that you perhaps steer clear of threatening to leave him as this might increase his feelings of fear and unease, which may negatively affect his actions and treatment towards you.

      Finally, do not accept any blame. You sound to me like a wonderful person who still admits to loving her husband despite his behaviour. You have the power to rise up over all this nonsense therefore I wish you well and all the strength you can muster in so doing.

      If you feel able, perhaps let me know how you are getting on.

      1. Danny, That is a great link you posted in your reply to Tori. I just checked it out and I’m sad to say,,,,,,I saw myself in quite a bit of it. I think I might be manipulative to a degree. My mother was EXTREMELY manipulative! I know I tried to use guilt with my ex, trying to get him to see how much I was hurting, trying to get my needs met. Actually…….what I really wanted more than anything was to feel safe with him and it wasn’t happening.

        The situation was much more complex than me being manipulative though, that’s for sure…….that may have been partly true for me but there was plenty of crap that he brought to the party. This is the thing that I still struggle with about all of it. Was i to blame for any of the failure of the relationshi*. I have to keep reminding myself to think back and look at the red flags that were flying about him right from the beginning, and there were SO many.
        Thanks for the link…….now,,,,,the question I ask myself is,,,,,,, am I manipulative in a normal and equal relationship? I would say I am not but I also would say….occasionally!?
        I know this for sure………..I don’t mean anyone harm and I don’t do it to take advantage or trick someone.

        1. My pleasure Puddle and thank you for your kind acknowledgement. I found it very useful too – as it handed back to me some of the power in positively influencing the interactions I have with my wife. I have read it and re-read it….and re-read it again so as to mentally sound sound the principles in such a way I could use them ‘naturally’ when in conversation. Fortunately, I have always been a pretty useful verbal communicator but I can tell you it has worked successfully. By no means am I out of the woods but I will not stop walking down this road of enlightenment.

          Further to which I will say I’m really pleased to have found this forum and to have made contact with people who share the same deeply troubling issues…..though none of us are perfect by any stretching of the imagination. And it is this realisation that drives me forward. I have said the wrong things, lost my temper, been angry, allowed by mouth to ‘drive’ before engaging brain. Everyone is guilty of that……absolutely everyone!!

          However I am not abusive (physically or verbally), I am not CA, I am not manipulative, I am not in any way an aggressor. And I am reading from your many contributions on this forum that neither are you. And that you certainly do not intend to be.

          So I do not feel you have anything to feel guilty about. All the very best 🙂

          1. Danny………this is the crux (or A crux) of the matter…………You said:
            ” I found it very useful too – as it handed back to me some of the power in positively influencing the interactions I have with my wife.”
            Yes! There IS a way to be a positive influence with your wife and to do it on a loving, firm but fair way.
            As fa as my contribution to the whole mess with Spathtardx……………I see now that under certain conditions,,,,,, I can easily melt down and handle things in a less than ideal way and I guess i DO feel guilty about that. WHY? because I loved him and if there is anything I could have done differently that was in the “firm but fair” context, I would have but I was under water emotionally and mentally so far back in the situation it seems like it was the entire time. I said some hurtful things to him and I regretted everyone of them and apologized for them and wanted to feel safe enough and that it mattered enough to him to change……….Long long story, the details get lost in translation in so many ways.
            Im so happy you have found the support, validation and motivation here and within yourself to make the changes required to give your wife and your relationship a chance for improvement!!!

    2. Hi Tori, I’m sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I can’t even imagine how much harder one of these nightmares is when there is a child involved.
      First of all your first priority needs to be the safety of both your son and you. Violence of any kind and at any level is a serious cause for concern Tori and usually gets worse…..sometimes with very very bad and unpredictable results. It’s not something to be taken lightly and I suggest you make a plan to get yourself into a safe situation as soon as possible. You can not sort out any relationship when A) one or both of the people have a drinking problem. It probably is not THE problem but whatever THE problem is, it can not be addressed until the drinking stops. It has been shown that he brain is affected by alcohol in may detrimental ways and not just WHEN someone is drinking……it actually damages the brain and affects the way someone thinks and acts in general. B) you can not sort out anything when one of the people involved in the relationship is being held hostage emotionally. By that I mean, manipulated by fear of any sort.
      It doesn’t sound, from what I have read anyhow, that either one of you is in a position to sort this out without outside help and IF he is a manipulator,,,,,,they will also try to manipulate that process.
      PLEASE think carefully about how to get yourself and your son into a safe living situation so that you can make some very important choices.
      Dany’s post sounds on target to me as well. Threats are never a good idea in a situation like you are dealing with as they can bring about desperate actions by the one who is being threatened.
      Your husband has NO EXCUSES for violence towards you. NONE! And ANY violence should be considered the tip of the iceberg, who knows what is lurking below?
      I would not take it lightly and NO none should take any form of abuse lightly.
      I have seen plenty of tears and heard plenty of I’m sorry’s in the relationshi* I was in yet saw NO sincere effort made to seek the necessary help required to make a lasting change. If an abuser’s “i’m sorry’s” are sincere……their actions will match their words.
      One of Dr. Simon’s finest articles, In my opinion:

  39. Hi Danny and Puddle, I am grateful for your support and have read the articles you recommended and have tried to use this information to help me with this situation. Tonight surprisingly I feel good. I did return home for a variety of reasons…my husband is not here, he has made other arrangements over this holiday period. Surprisingly or maybe not so he was coming home and I got a phone call and he’s crying uncontrollably saying he loves me and wants to see me…I could not believe the change. Since then we’ve had one counseling session and when he was confronted by the therapist about the violence, he of course yelled why is this all about me what about her. It wasn’t successful really as the therapist pointed out that while I was still so terrified I wasn’t capable of dealing with any issues in a coherent manner. It was true, I have had such a distressing time, jumping at shadows, just so filled with anxiety. Since then I’ve been reading CD and one thing I read about how they won’t change if they are still holding on to their core beliefs and that they see but they disagree seems true to him. The talks I’ve had with my husband…well, they just keep coming around to me or work pressures. He doesn’t want to talk about the incident saying that I’m just trying to make him feel bad about himself by bringing it up. He can’t believe how badly I think of him. Why is he always the bad one or the wrong one. It just goes in circles. So he just wants to play happy families and take me and my son to the beach and do all those things we’ve always done. I know I should be stronger but he loves his son and this time of year I feel I don’t want to cause any issues. My son is happier right now.
    Today my husband even thinks we’re making progress, that we’re halfway there to fixing this problem without even discussing the problem…well not from my point of view anyway. This incident was the most terrifying yet and I felt my life was in danger and he somehow thinks I can get over it without talking about it. He even admitted that he doesn’t know if he can change. Yet he is still willing to go to counseling and seems not to be drinking so that gives some hope, though for me a black cloud is over everything and I have no trust. He acknowledges that while I am frightened and can’t trust him that there’s no chance. I was fearful before this incident now I wonder if there’s any coming back from this.
    I understand the comments about threatening to leave and have tried some of the recommendations in Dr Simon’s book but yeah…he’s standing staunch against any moves of empowerment. You know I think he likes me in this anxious state, now he can comfort me, be the protector… that’s what it feels like. If I’m honest I can say that something inside me has changed profoundly. It’s like I love him but I feel that maybe I can break free from this life. This is the first night that I haven’t felt emotionally strung out. I have a calm about me. I wonder if it was all my fears about how he might react that were engulfing me.
    I still find him confusing, how he seems so genuine with his feelings but yet try to talk or approach the subject he suddenly changes. I will keep reading and I’ll find strength to keep moving forward. I really would look forward to a book that helps with the breaking free of a relationship with a disturbed character. Even stories where women or men have managed to pick up the pieces and have a successful life. That feels so far away for me right now. Each day feels so different and weird. Even this place I loved seems so different, somehow tainted. Right now I think I shall enjoy the calm I haven’t had many nights like this. I thank you both for listening and wish you the best with your difficult journeys too. 🙂

    1. Hey Tori! Really good to hear from you. As I’ve said before, I am no expert but it seems to me you are well on the way to negotiating some control back into your life. It was particularly encouraging to read that you feel good and that you have a calm about you. That was wonderfully expressed and I can personally concur with those feelings, since I discovered and was able to make sense of my wife’s behaviour – thanks mainly to this website and it’s wonderful contributors. It gives one a wonderful feeling of empowerment.

      Remember please that this is new ground being trodden for you both so of course there lies a rocky road ahead (whether you allowed things to go back to the way they were or you continue along this road). So be patient and be firm and be determined and, as you say, BE STRONG, and I feel confident that things will eventually get better for you. I’m not surprised at the things he said after only one meeting with the counsellor and it will perhaps be a long while before his deeply held personal convictions are broken down, which is why I recommend you be patient.

      All the very best and I wish you well Tori 🙂

  40. Tori, you are welcome. I do feel concerned for you though……… In my opinion, he is not going to change until he get some serious professional help. It’s sad because out of any type of person……..these are the ones who need the most help and are the least likely to get it……….mostly because they don’t think they need it. If they foo see and acknowledge a problem, it’s most likely not going to be the real problem.

  41. Tori,,,,,,,,,,,the lengths and depths of what these people will go to in order to manipulate you is unimaginable. ACTIONS!!! Not words, tears, promises……..think of yourself and what is important to YOU and what YOU would be DOING to keep and preserve something/ someone that is important to you.

  42. I also had a sadistic mother who enjoyed inflicting emotional pain on me and lied constantly. I actually believe that she was possessed because her behaviour was so strange. Has anyone else had that impression of these people?

  43. The thing that targeted me was sadistic, but very holier than thou, very ‘kind’!! LOL. Seriously, at least if somebody is shrieking at you, you know they are nasty. What about the person whose mask of ‘goodness’ is so effective, it takes his partner 25 years to figure out she’s not the one with the major problem. Hell, problem?! Duping delight, enjoying somebody’s misery? That’s just plain evil.

    1. You got it Lisa. It sounds like you really have a solid grasp on all of this And yes……..the tears!!!! LOL!! When I look back on it all, it was like a bad soap opera performance. Your discription of his tearful bad preformance made me laugh in recognition………too bad it’s not funny though. I can remember feeling really awkward when he would put on these performances but didn’t recognize it for what it was. I just chalked it up to him being a guy and, well……I don’t know how to describe what I chalked it up to really.
      it’s all VERY creepy Lisa……..
      I am a person who is very easily brought to tears and I TRY to hold them back because crying absolutely wrecks me! I’m wrecked for 12-24 hours. My eyes are trashed and feel like someone rubbed sand and battery acid in them, my sinuses back up, and I sometimes get sick to my stomach and or get a headache. face all blotchy, etc! LOL
      When I was younger I was very self conscious about how I looked during and after crying so I would try my best not to cry. At times there was no stopping it,,,,,,like a broken dam, the tears just refused to be held back. The older I got, the more I just let it go. VERY emotional…….but it’s not out of character for me to really sob! It was so out of place for him to put on these displays and now I understand why it made me “uncomfortable”.

  44. What surprises me is how easily the disordered can tear up. I dated an extremely passive aggressive man decades ago– a major boo-hoo-aholic. He would cry over spilled milk, literally. Totally weird effeminate falsetto flourish, too. Operatic style sobbing.

    The sadist who targeted me, was a big time water-works champ too, though I never caught him at it. He sent me a couple of letters with splotches on them that he claimed were his tears. My God, this just sounds so obviously fake, in retrospect. But who doesn’t love a dude who sheds a tear, writing about his mother?

    The woman I recently de-friended, too, I recall, several years ago, sitting at her dinner table with several other people, listening to her cry tears of sentiment,,off and on, all through a dinner that went on for hours!

    Nothing against crying if it’s sincere, but with CD’s it seems to be purpose driven not expression driven. Creepy.

  45. your an idiot. the assyrians were brilliant peace loving people. the were not warriours at all.

    im a professor of babylonian and sumeric and assyrian religion and culture at the university of georgia so i have an idea of what im talking about

    1. Hi David, can you please be more specific on who is the idiot in you opinion and I’m really interested to know what you know about the Assyrians please.

        1. I googled him Puddle and there’s an accountancy guy there by that name and academics just don’t communicate, spell or type that way….Or engage in impression management and insults to get themselves taken seriously. CA CA written all over it.

          1. Probably Juliette, although i would say there was nothing covert about that! LOL

          2. :-)))))! I’m trying really hard to be a grown up about this! I totally understand what you are saying.

  46. The man I’m in a relationship with has all the characteristics you wrote in your article. I try to do everything I can to make him happy but it seems the harder I try to be what he wants the more aggressive and controlling he gets. Its not sexually. When we are in bed he kind and generous but as soon as it’s over it goes back to the way it was.

    Can I make this relationship work? How? It’s been tearing me apart that I can’t make him happy and I’ve started to punish myself for it. Can you give me any advice?

  47. The man I’m in a relationship with has all the characteristics you wrote in your article. I try to do everything I can to make him happy but it seems the harder I try to be what he wants the more aggressive and controlling he gets. Its not sexually. When we are in bed he kind and generous but as soon as it’s over it goes back to the way it was.

    Can I make this relationship work? How? It’s been tearing me apart that I can’t make him happy and I’ve started to punish myself for it. Can you give me any advice?

  48. I just like the valuable information you provide for your articles.
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    1. I breakup my fiancé due to his “moodiness,” negativity, outbursts of anger, and resulting verbal abuse. Dealing with it over almost 10 years was dragging me down into depression and I finally faced the fact that it was not going to change. I’m not sure that “ending conversations with sickening sweetness” would have worked because it seems that would be a form of enablement. Confrontation and setting boundaries didn’t seem to work either and just enraged him more when he turned everything I said back on me, a common technique used by these individuals. Consequences of an unhappy relationship didn’t encourage him to change or seek help either. I don’t honestly believe these people can change. They really can’t help themselves because it’s an illness that I don’t think they can control.
      After researching and reading symptoms, I strongly believe that it is either diagnosed bipolar disorder or high functioning Asperger’s syndrome. Since he refused to face his issues, I had to try to figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to get end up but realized the negative impact his toxicity was having on me and my health. Getting away was the only answer and, after 5 months, it’s still taking me time to get back to old happy self before depression eventually set in. I’m seeing a therapist to help me through this. Rather than seek help, he is in continuing denial and on an online dating website searching for the next relationship to bring his baggage to. I know I made the right decision although it was difficult. I hope my comments will help those dealing with the same thing and still trying to convince themselves that it might get better. Move on to a life of peace and breathe again.

  49. Dr Simon this is exactly the character of a man, I know. I have been trapped by him for years together. He can quickly change his trait to normal once he hurts someone who do not listen to him. He says he realizes but actually he cheated.

  50. Thank you for this essay. My 12YO daughter just described to me this morning a perpetrator-victim situation at school, and I just sent the following letter to the school board at the Madison Metropolitan School District, in which I used your site as an authority:

    Good morning,

    This is Andrea Doe, Jane Doe’s mother. This morning when I went to drop Jane off at Sherman Middle School, she wanted to wait in the car for a minute before getting out. She said that this was because a boy named Julien was getting out of his car, and she didn’t want to walk in with Julian. She explained that Julian was “nice” but he gets “picked on” and that she doesn’t want to be seen walking with Julian because she would then get “picked on” herself. She said that although Julian tells teachers sometimes about being picked on, the bullying against him continues.

    Cruel comments and subtle digs and jabs that serve no legitimate purpose are not cloaked with First Amendment protection. Years ago, when I was a younger attorney and still taking Public Defender appointments, I once had a client charged with Disorderly Conduct for allegedly calling someone a rude name in the Grant County Jail. If it is Disorderly Conduct to call someone a rude name in Grant County, there is no reason that it wouldn’t be Disorderly Conduct to call someone rude names in Dane County.

    Wisconsin Stat. 947.01(1) reads: “Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.”

    Application of the disorderly conduct statute to speech alone is permissible under appropriate circumstances. When speech is not an essential part of any exposition of ideas, when it is utterly devoid of social value, and when it can cause or provoke a disturbance, the disorderly conduct statute can be applicable. State v. A.S. 2001 WI 48, 243 Wis. 2d 173, 626 N.W.2d 712, 99-2317. “Abusive” conduct is conduct that is injurious, improper, hurtful, offensive, or reproachful. State v. Douglas D. 2001 WI 47, 243 Wis. 2d 204, 626 N.W.2d 725.

    It sounds to me like the spoken words that have been directed at Julien are likely “abusive” and “otherwise disorderly,” and are utterly devoid of social value and not part of any exposition of ideas. It sounds to me that the words are probably “injurious,” “improper,” and “hurtful.”

    Even if the bullying words directed at Julien have not yet caused or provoked a disturbance, the circumstances under which they have been uttered could “tend[] to cause or provoke a disturbance.” If what Hypatia is telling me is true (and I have no reason to doubt her; she is a very honest child), bullying words (or even more subtle digs and jabs) have been directed at Julien for the purpose of gratifying the twisted emotions of adolescents with psychopathic traits. These little brats need to be referred for delinquency proceedings. No child should be singled out by a group of peers to be ostracized and humiliated and picked on.

    It sounds to me like the mean popular kids have made this child a target, that these kids probably have psychopathic traits that cause them to enjoy the suffering of others, that the purpose of the cruel words is to establish power, control and dominance, and that any school efforts to stop their cruel behavior have thus far been ineffective.

    From my perspective, Sherman Middle School faculty and staff need to start learning about what constitutes psychopathic conduct. At their core, psychopaths enjoy harming others. Brain imaging studies show that some people actually have increased electrical activity in the pleasure centers of their brain when they observe others in distress.

    Unfortunately, the APA, in an act of extreme intellectual dishonesty, eliminated “sadistic personality disorder” from among possible diagnosis back in 1994. Does that mean that sadists don’t exist? Of course not. All it means is that the APA has made it more difficult for the average human to understand what they are dealing with, when facing deliberately sadistic behavior, since “sadistic personality disorder” is no longer something that is taught in routine undergraduate courses, although sadists still walk among us and create profound harm.(1) And long before the elimination of “sadistic personality disorder” from consideration in the DSM, the ALA eliminated “psychopath” as a diagnosis. Does that mean psychopaths don’t exist? Of course not. But it does mean that it is going to be harder for the average American(2) who encounters one to recognize what he is dealing with, since the APA seems bound and determined eliminate that very accurate disorder from being recognized by even professionals, let alone lay-persons.

    I know that we aren’t supposed to identify adolescents or children as psychopaths, but the bottom line is that that with careful observation of words and deeds, psychopaths and semi-psychopaths can be identified with a surprising degree of accuracy, as early as childhood. Bullies are directing ostracism and cruel behavior at Julien and then somehow subtly communicating to Julien’s classmates that if they don’t acquiesce to the bullying of Julien by the core group of mean kids, those classmates will likewise be bullied. Even if that core group of mean kids aren’t actual psychopaths, their behavior evinces psychopathic traits. It is time that society (including the MMSD) stops pretending that psychopathology isn’t the driving force behind cruel and demeaning words and actions. It is time to stop pretending that there isn’t a core subset of reptiles in people suits whose entire lifestyle involves demeaning others.(3).

    As a taxpaying citizen (my husband and I own three residences in Madison and we certainly pay a goodly amount in property taxes each year) my position should count. These adolescent sadists should be publicly exposed for what they have done (i.e. named and shamed and confronted with the specifics of their behavior in front of their classmates, not so much for the purpose of curing the bullies’ bad conduct, but, rather, to give the victims a feeling that justice has been done). They should be required to write letters of apology to anyone they have harmed in any way, particularly the direct recipients of the hurtful invectives, but also the bystanders who are too scared to speak up themselves. They should be required to identify, in writing, all of their victims, and the specific words directed at each victim. Their parents should be called in. They should be referred for delinquency proceedings. And since they have demonstrated, by their behavior, that they possess psychopathic traits (i.e. they take enjoyment at the discomfort of others), adults should be watching them like hawks for years to come, to ensure that there aren’t future victims.


    Jane Doe
    (address redacted)


    (2). At least the British recognize that Sadistic Personality Disorder exists and recognize that sadists use intimidation to get others to do what they want, see


  51. My father was also a sadistic aggressive personality type. Dr. Simon’s story about the sadistic aggressiveness demonstrated by a business associate evidences more than a willingness to humiliate and diminish another human being. The significance lies in the demonstration of sadistic behaviour in the company of another to whom the aggressor desires to control and contain. In other words, the cruel actions were actually intended against Dr. Simon in order to demonstrate the lengths the sadistic aggressor was willing to go to seek and maintain power and control, in his relationship with Dr. Simon. The message that the sadistic aggressor is attempting to communicate is “mess with me and you will pay.” The sadistic aggressor was using the victim to intimidate and frighten Dr. Simon.

  52. When a sadistic aggressor engages in the kinds of behaviours in the presence of others I believe he does so to extend his power and influence over the “others.” However, a sadistic aggressor can also operate covertly, demeaning others covertly, in order to alienate and divide. Sadistic aggressors are masters at propagandizing, circulating rumours about others. Most people do not want to inflame conflict by challenging the sadistic aggressor about his beliefs or behaviours. Nor are they willing to disclose the under scrupulous motives of the aggressor, for fear that the sadistic aggressor will turn on them. The perpetrator appeals to our universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil and flourishes in an environment where others say and do nothing. (Judith Hermann)

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